Wales may have to reassess independence if the UK breaks up, First Minister says
First Minister Mark Drakeford has indicated that his government would reconsider Welsh independence as an option, if the UK broke up.
Plaid Cymru AM Delyth Jewell asked the First Minister whether his support for the union was “unconditional” during a session of the External Affairs Committee in the Welsh Assembly.
Mr Drakeford initially said he didn’t envisage any circumstances where it would be in Wales’ interests to leave the UK.
However, when pressed he suggested that if other parts of the UK did leave, Wales would have to reassess its position.
“If you believe the UK is a voluntary association of four nations you have to face the possibility that some component parts of the United Kingdom may no longer choose to be part of it,” he said.
“If that were to be the case in future then, of course, any sensible political party or government would have to reassess Wales’ place in the components that were there in the future.
“So in that sense, it can’t possibly be unconditional because there are other moving parts here of which we are not in control.”
Responding to his comments, Plaid Cymru’s Shadow International Relations Minister Delyth Jewell AM said it was a “significant development”.
“This is a monumental day in the history of the Welsh nation as a Labour First Minister finally admits that independence has to be seriously considered as offering the best future for Wales,” she said.
“As the ongoing political crisis engulfing the UK shows no sign of abating, the only responsible course of action for Welsh Government now is to urgently begin the work of scoping out how an independent Welsh state would function.
“The First Minister must, therefore, announce an in-depth review of our current fiscal situation in order to prepare us for Independence Day, building on the excellent work contained in the Government Expenditure and Revenue Wales report by the Wales Governance Centre.
“He should also convene a Citizen’s Assembly in order to ensure that Welsh citizens have the opportunity to have their say about the constitutional principles that would underpin an independent Welsh state, which should include a guarantee that the Welsh NHS remains a publicly-funded free-at-the-point-of-need service for all time.
“As the only party that has consistently advocated Welsh independence for decades, Plaid Cymru stands ready and willing to assist Welsh Government in this preparatory work in putting the building blocks in place for an independent Welsh state.”