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‘Worrying echo of Tryweryn’: UK Government ‘power grab’ would give them control over water infrastructure

14 Sep 2020 3 minute read
Cofiwch Dryweeryn rebuilt. Picture by Ifan Morgan Jones. (CC BY 2.0)

Plaid Cymru have said that Westminster’s ‘power grab’ of devolved powers could give them the ability to force through another Tryweryn.

The Internal Market Bill, which will face its first Parliamentary vote today, will give the UK Government new spending powers that will enable them to ignore the Welsh Government’s wishes and directly fund projects in Wales.

The bill makes explicit reference to water as one of the areas where they could overrule the devolved parliaments.

Plaid Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts MP said the fact Westminster wants to take powers over water infrastructure shows “a shocking level of historical ignorance”.

She went on to say that the drowning of Capel Celyn serves as a reminder of what happens when “Westminster holds the whip hand over Wales.”

The village of Capel Celyn village in the Tryweryn valley in 1965 was drowned to create a reservoir, despite every Welsh MP but one voting against it.

In recent years the ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ [Remember Tryweryn] mural in Llanrhystud, mid-Wales, has re-emerged as a significant symbol, with replicas appearing across Wales.



Plaid Cymru, alongside the SNP, Liberal Democrats, SDLP, Greens and Alliance have tabled an amendment seeking to stop the Bill progressing any further.

“We can see the enduring significance of Welsh control over water by the continuing prominence of ‘Cofiwch Dryweryn’ – ‘Remember Tryweryn’ murals and images across Wales,”

Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP said.

“The Internal Market Bill’s attempt to snatch powers over this issue is a worrying echo of that infamous drowning of Capel Celyn by Westminster, against the wishes of Wales.

“We know this Bill will break international law, put the Good Friday Agreement at risk, and smash the devolution settlement, but the historical ignorance to seek powers over Welsh water infrastructure is shocking.

“Although over four decades ago, the drowning of Capel Celyn remains at the forefront of the Welsh national memory, serving as a reminder of what happens when Westminster holds the whip hand over Wales.

“Westminster seems intent on not only undermining our devolution settlement, but to show a shameless disregard for our culture and history.

“Plaid Cymru will oppose this Bill every step of the way.”


Last week, the First Minister Mark Drakeford also condemned the UK Government Internal Market Bill as an “enormous power grab” which the Welsh Government will oppose “every step of the way”.

“This is an enormous power grab – undermining powers that have belonged to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for over 20 years,” Mark Drakeford said.

“This Bill will do more to hasten the break-up of the Union than anything else since devolution began. We’ll oppose it every step of the way.”

The Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles also said the Internal Market bill is “an attack on democracy” which will “sacrifice the future of the union by stealing powers from devolved administrations”.

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