Liz Saville Roberts, Leader of the Plaid Cymru Westminster Group
The faultlines of Britain were always creaking; now the cracks in the fractures threaten the structure. From its entrenched im-meritocracy of class privilege to the tradition of Churchill-worship at the altar of empire, the United Kingdom reveals itself as a little Englanders’ club, exclusive and unwelcoming.
Yet, none of us – the children of Empire- was ever given the choice. The sun never set on the pink-mapped countries of imperial presence: from Canada to Ceylon, from Barbados to Brunei, but this was a map that overwrote Wales before anywhere else.
At the heart of all of this greed and imperialism has been the Commons. At the behest of unionist parties, the Commons – unwittingly, pigheadedly – is responsible for breaking Britain. We don’t even need to look past the last ten years to see the damage that has been done to our communities.
Ruthless Tory austerity has butchered our public services, and now both the Tories and Labour are determined to destroy our country to further their party and personal career interests.
Even members of the two unionist parties are rejecting their own system. This week, we have seen nine MPs leave the evermore toxic Team Corbyn, and three renounce self-serving conservativism.
This trend is only set to accelerate. If rejecting the clichés of Westminster is good enough for them, surely it is good enough for Wales.
Wales is plagued by the two Brit Nat parties ruling the roosts from either side of the M4, both claiming to work for Wales, but neither valuing us as anything more than an extension of England.
In Westminster, we have a Secretary of State and an entire Whitehall department allegedly as our champion in London. This champion, who has in the last two years cancelled more projects in Wales than he has created.
Our defender-in-chief has canned our tidal lagoon in Swansea and cut off our electrified mainline. His achievements to date? Even renaming a bridge – that most innocent of political perks – was a PR catastrophe.
Our caretaker in the Commons is in actual fact the Pied Piper of Tŷ Gwydyr, playing a fine tune and leading Welsh hopes for prosperity astray.
In Cardiff, the Labour Government is hamstrung by Corbyn’s puritanical Lexit mission. The First Minister believes the best way forward is a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal, has even whipped his party to vote for Plaid Cymru’s motion in the Senedd calling for a final say, yet is forced to bow down to Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-line refusal to back democracy.
It is not just on Brexit that the Labour Government in Cardiff is letting us down. They’ve refused to support the devolution of the administration of welfare – a tool it could use to mitigate the harsh impact of austerity on our most vulnerable, as the SNP Government in Scotland does.
Its reason for refusal? It wouldn’t be fair for the people of Swindon. The moment our government shows more respect for the people of Swindon than the people of Swansea is the moment we stand up to the unionist parties and demand better.
Unionist parties only ever have one mission: to preserve the union. Whether they are in government in Westminster or Cardiff, their every move will be to ensure Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland answers to England.
Wales doesn’t need this. We don’t need to be ruled by two governments only interested in protecting the country next door. We don’t need to be passed over for yet more investment in the over-heated south east of England. We don’t need to be subject to a botched Brexit that will destroy our country from our farms to our factories.
Next week, the Prime Minister will bring yet another meaningless vote on her bungled Brexit deal before the House. This will get rejected. Jeremy Corbyn will stand up and demand that Britain deserves better, but fail to define what his idea of ‘better’ actually is.
The DUP will vote against the Prime Minister, but still take a billion pounds from her. Jacob Rees-Mogg will pontificate from his podium about the false prospects of having a trading empire again, all the while knowing he has too much money stowed away in foreign countries for Brexit to really affect him.
The Commons is collapsing, Britain is imploding, and it will take Wales along with it. Our valleys and our villages cannot afford this. They couldn’t afford it under the first Iron Lady, and they certainly cannot afford it under this one.
We cannot simply continue down this same path, knowing what calamities the future will bring. Westminster will never look out for Wales.
It’s time for us to demand the powers to do it ourselves. In such circumstances, who would not aspire to self-sufficiency, to independence?
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