Wales must prepare for ‘likely’ second independence referendum in Scotland before 2025 says Drakeford
A second referendum in Scotland is “likely” before 2025 and Wales must prepare for it by holding its own constitutional convention, the First Minister has said.
Mark Drakeford told the Morning Star that the Welsh Government would be pressing ahead with the convention “to make sure we do the thinking on what choices” would be available to Wales.
“In this Senedd term there is likely to be a second referendum in Scotland,” he said.
“The fragility of the United Kingdom is very real and our convention is designed to make sure we do the thinking on what choices there are on that future.
“The membership and terms of reference will be announced in the next few weeks and will include a very strong strand of citizens’ voices in the work of the commission.”
His comments puts the Welsh Labour leader slightly at odds with Scottish Labour, whose official position is that there will not be another independence referendum until at least the next set of devolved elections.
“While the country is focused on recovery from Covid-19 over the next five years, we will not support a second independence referendum,” their manifesto for May’s Scottish Parliament election said.
Prime minister Boris Johnson has said he will refuse to approve another independence referendum, setting the stage for a potential court battle with the Scottish Government over whether Edinburgh can legally hold one on its own.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon however told the Financial Times that she hoped the Covid-19 pandemic would have receded sufficiently by early spring next year for “concrete decisions” on when a referendum could be held.
“I can’t look ahead and tell you exactly how this constitutional impasse is going to resolve itself, but it will resolve itself — and it will resolve itself on the side of democracy, because actually, the alternative is pretty unthinkable,” she said.
“I’ve got democracy on my side . . . if they think it’s about playing a waiting game, I’ve probably got time on my side as well. You look at the demographics of the support for independence — well, I’m not sure that’s going to get you out of this conundrum.”
Wales’ present Minister for the Constitution, Mick Antoniw, warned before the election in May that Wales needed its own constitutional convention and “we cannot afford to wait”.
“We need to start thinking about the future of Wales now,” he said. “What should Wales look like in the future and what should its values be? How can government reconnect with the people of Wales and renew confidence in the vitality and accountability of our political institutions?”