Politics

39 per cent for Welsh independence

Welsh independence
A march for independence in 2019. Source: Llywelyn2000 (via. Wikimedia Commons)
That’s the latest percentage of adults that would vote for Welsh independence if a referendum was held tomorrow (excluding those that would not vote or answered don’t know) according to a poll conducted by Savanta ComRes for ITV.

By Dewi Morris | Political Editor

The figure puts support for independence at its highest and follows a trend suggesting that support is rising.

With the poll showing 43% in support of Northern Ireland unifying with the Republic of Ireland, a string of consecutive polls which show a majority for Scottish independence, and a projected landslide SNP win in Holyrood’s May election, the future of the union appears in turmoil.

Following the record poll, released on March 4, weighing in on the independence debate was on the cards for the main parties in Wales last week. Here’s a breakdown of where they stand and comments that were made following the poll:


Labour

The Welsh Labour party are against independence, however, they call for a “reformed, fairer Union.” On March 4, Mark Drakeford warned that the current UK union “is over”. He called for a new union that would reflect a “voluntary association of four nations”. A new “entrenched form of devolution which cannot be unilaterally rolled back by any one party”, and “could not be interfered with in the way we have seen so vividly in recent months.” The First Minister’s words may be a reference to the Internal Market Act, pushed by the UK Government which he called an “enormous power grab”. The Welsh Government are planning to take the UK Government to court over the act which was passed despite the Welsh and Scottish Governments refusing to give consent.

In the party’s Spring conference on February 26, Drakeford called for “a more powerful devolution settlement” and “home rule for Wales – in a successful United Kingdom. Internationalist, not nationalist. Outward facing, not inward looking.”


Conservative

The Welsh Conservative and Unionist party are also against independence, as the party’s full title would suggest. On March 4, Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives accused Drakeford of having “regrettably flirted with divisive nationalism throughout his short time in post.” In a similar sentiment, the Conservative Welsh Secretary Simon Hart accused Drakeford of “an overt act of flirtation with Plaid Cymru” over the First Minister’s call for a reformed union.

While the Conservatives are pro-devolution, this hasn’t been without controversy. In November Boris Johnson remarked that devolution in Scotland had been a “disaster”. In January it was revealed that three Welsh Conservative candidates wish to abolish the Senedd.


Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru are in favour of Welsh independence, and have promised to offer Wales a referendum for independence if they win the Senedd election in May.

On March 5, Plaid Cymru held its Spring Conference during which the party’s leader Adam Price stated: “The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the reality of modern Britain: a state defined by crushing poverty, ruled by a corrupt elite that gives contracts to its friends and denies furlough to its neighbours. It’s no surprise, is it, that this week saw the highest level of support for independence ever.”

Price also criticised Drakeford over his calls for home rule within the UK, saying: “Whether it’s ‘Home Rule’ or ‘Tory Rule’ the result is the same for our nation, a party at the helm that puts London before Wales.”


Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems oppose independence but support a reformed union within the UK. In the Welsh Liberal Democrat conference on March 7, the party’s leader Jane Dodds, warned independence would be “ten times more painful than Brexit”, she said Wales should be “strong, equal and confident in a federal United Kingdom”.

The UK Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey warned the conference that “the same forces that brought us Brexit are working to reverse the decades of progress that devolution has delivered for Wales”.

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