United Kingdom must be reformed to give Wales a greater voice – First Minister

Mark Drakeford. Picture by Christopher Jones / Alamy Stock Photo

The future of the United Kingdom is in question as a result of Brexit, the First Minister said tonight as he launched a new plan to reform the union.

The document ‘Reforming the Union’ emphasises the need to make permanent the devolution settlement without leading to full independence.

It also includes a plan to reform the House of Lords so that the nations of the United Kingdom are given a greater voice, rather than, as in the House of Commons, being based very largely on population.

“Twenty years into devolution, I don’t believe that this model of Parliamentary Sovereignty – in which Westminster remains paramount and all other democratic forums are subsidiary to it – can provide a basis for the future,” Mark Drakeford said.

“Reform of the UK constitution is both urgent and vital. This plan sets out the minimum steps we believe are need to strengthen our Union for the future.

“Our emancipation is not one based on framing other nations as the enemy: whether that be by Boris Johnson’s attempt to demonise the European Union, or Plaid Cymru’s attempt to blame the English for all our present discontents.”

In the document, the Welsh Government says that the UK is ‘a voluntary association of nations’ which should be open to any of its parts withdrawing.

It also said that if a government secured ‘an explicit electoral mandate’ for an independence referendum, it should be able to expect the UK Parliament to make arrangements for one.

However, the paper goes on to say that the Welsh Government is ‘committed to the United Kingdom’ and would hope that Wales would vote to stay in the UK.

 

‘Mainstream’

Responding to the publication of the Welsh Government’s Reforming our Union policy document, Plaid Cymru has said that long term reform of the United Kingdom was pointless.

Plaid Cymru said that short term improvements to get Wales ‘indy-ready’ were welcome, but that the Welsh Government should focus its efforts not on saving the union but on securing the tools needed to build ‘the Wales of tomorrow’, such as full borrowing and tax powers, responsibility for welfare, and an international voice.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price AM said: “There is now no doubt that Wales should be able to hold an independence referendum.

“It is disappointing – if not surprising – that the Labour Welsh Government continues to defend this indefensible union.

“Any short term steps that help get Wales indy-ready are welcome. But the Welsh Government should concentrate on building the Wales of tomorrow, not saving the union.

“The fact of the matter is that long term reform of the UK is futile. As we’re seeing at the moment through the Brexit chaos, this union allows the Tories to do their very worst to Wales.

“Remember also that this comes from a Welsh Government that was happy to send powers back from our Senedd to Westminster.

“The pooling and sharing of risks and resources is, frankly, a fanciful idea. Westminster has always been all risk and no reward for Wales.

“As we saw last month, support for Welsh independence is at an all-time high. It is moving from the margins and into the mainstream – and no amount of reform will stop the march of a nation.”

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Huw MeredyddMawkernewekjr humphrysRhosdduAlwyn Evans Recent comment authors
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Alwyn Evans
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Alwyn Evans

Mark Drakeford. Rearranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic. You’ve been following Carwyn too long, Mark.

Mawkernewek
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Clearly some nations are recognised as part of a voluntary association of nations, even if that is more an aspiration than a reality, and other(s), i.e. Cornwall are not.

Rhosddu
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Rhosddu

Neither has Cymru ever been a voluntary member. As for Kernow, there was never an Act of Union between it and England; it simply came to be treated as if it were an English county — integration by stealth. Adam Price’s response to Mark Drakeford’s tired and rather pitiful rallying call to ‘save the union’ cannot be faulted. Drakeford must know that Wales was nothing more than a cash cow for the English industrial economy for 150 years, and is now a leisure resource and a place of settlement for surplus population, as well as a source of cheap water.… Read more »

Mawkernewek
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To argue that the Welsh devolution referendum was a vote in favour of being part of the Union, isn’t really plausible, because after all independence wasn’t on the ballot paper.
This is similar to the way Hawai`i voted in favour of statehood in the 1950s rather than continue as a territory as it had been since it was annexed by the USA in the 19th century. Needless to say in that case independence wasn’t on the ballot paper either.

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

He has little chance of doing anything. Neither does he plan on even trying. Total Con Labour, as always were.

Mawkernewek
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I would suspect that the Tories have even less interest in constitutional reform, or even codifying our existing de facto constitution in a single document, because to open up the debate about the Union at this stage risks bringing the whole edifice down. It is one thing for Scotland to vote against independence, but quite another to positively affirm a subordinate position in the Union.

jr humphrys
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jr humphrys

Shotgun wedding.

Huw Meredydd
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Huw Meredydd

Councillor Drakeford (nice man) is continuing to act too comfortably within his role as national leader; he’s pushing no envelopes; he’s asking nicely; he’s pleading for special consideration; ‘would you be so good as to…” he asks, and ‘expresses regret’ when he is ignored his message is understandable – after all, he has two wings to try and hold together in his Party would he, though, not be better off in making Wales ‘prickly’; would that not make people sit up and take notice (not least of which the people of Wales themselves) at the very least draw vivid attention… Read more »