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After promising to save devolution from the Tories’ power grab, Labour fell at the first hurdle

11 Sep 2020 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford and Boris Johnson (OGL v.3).

Carrie Harper, Plaid Cymru Councillor for the Queensway ward on Wrexham Council

On Wednesday the First Minister Mark Drakeford slammed the UK Government for an “enormous power grab” which he said the Welsh Government will oppose “every step of the way”.

Boris Johnson’s government is introducing a bill at Westminster that will allow them to ignore the Welsh Government’s wishes on what infrastructure projects should be built in Wales.

It will also force Wales and Scotland to accept whatever new standards on food, environment and animal welfare are agreed by the UK Government in post-Brexit trade deals.

Mark Drakeford was entirely right to say that the bill will “undermine powers that have belonged to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for over 20 years”.

Unfortunately, as always, Welsh Labour like to make a big show of standing up for Wales but then do nothing.

When the first opportunity to fight back against this appalling bill presented itself, Welsh Labour were nowhere to be seen. Instead of defending Welsh democracy, they ran for the hills.

The SNP’s Westminster group leader, Ian Blackford tabled a cross-party amendment at Westminster to deny a second reading for the Internal Market Bill because it breaks international law and attacks the devolution settlement.

The amendment had the support of SNP, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dem, SDLP, Green and Alliance Party MPs from across the four nations of the UK.

But where were Labour? Where were Welsh Labour MPs? After the promise to fight the bill “every step of the way,” they were nowhere to be seen.

The supposed staunch defenders of devolution didn’t even turn up for the fight. They talked a good game, but didn’t even show up on the pitch.



Now there are rumours that Labour may not even vote against the Internal Market Bill at all. They are so afraid of being accused of ‘blocking Brexit’ that they will simply abstain and let the UK Government do as they please.

This is great for the Labour party – they want the Conservatives to own the inevitable Brexit omnishambles that is to come in January.

But letting Boris Johnson go down with the ship is no help when we’re all on board too. And it does nothing to stop the UK Government rolling back the result of two devolution referendums.

This is a tacit acceptance of the damage this bill will do to Wales. It makes our Welsh NHS vulnerable to being sold off to US corporations.

The bill threatens the livelihoods of our farmers, because it gives Westminster the power to start a race to the bottom on food standards and flood the market with chlorinated chicken and hormone beef.

It hands Westminster the power to overrule laws made in our national parliament, the Senedd, and to subvert the democratic will of our people.

By clinging to its place in the Westminster establishment, and stubbornly refusing to back independence against the wishes of even its own supporters, Welsh Labour is colluding in the subversion of our democracy by Dominic Cummings and his minions.

Labour have proven time and time again that however much they promise to stand up for Wales, when the time comes they will roll over and have their tummies tickled.

This is because ultimately they believe that Westminster knows best for Wales, even when the Tories are in charge. They won’t allow us any means of defending ourselves from them.

The only way to fight back against this power grab is to elect a government in May’s Senedd elections that will really stand up for Wales – as the SNP are doing for Scotland.

It’s time to give the dragon a pair of teeth and some fire in its belly.

At the next election, there is a stark choice between a party that really does stand up for Wales when it counts, and one that just pretends to.

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