By Hefin Rees Edwards
The new leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price, recently commented that Welsh independence would be more likely after Brexit. He spoke about how a no-deal or hard Brexit would be disastrous for Wales and this could see Labour voters turning to Plaid in the aftermath of such an event.
Price noted that after Brexit, Wales would be left at the ‘mercy of Westminster’. Scottish independence and Irish reunification would become more likely if there is to be no deal with the EU, and that Welsh independence would be the only way to secure Wales’ future post-Brexit. Price sees independence as not simply an end goal but as “the only sustainable solution”. He says “only through having our hands on the levers of that power will we be able to deliver back the kind of society people want”.
He claims that if Plaid Cymru won control of the Senedd in the 2021 elections, his government would “put a Welsh Independence Referendum Act on the statute book at the earliest possible opportunity”.
Opting for a famous Barack Obama slogan at the conference, Price stated “Yes Wales Can”; he says post-Brexit is an opportunity to “Win a new Wales”. The new Plaid leader also compared the current state of the UK to the “last days of the Hapsburg Empire [where] the centre cannot hold.”
Price recently spoke at the SNP conference where he backed calls for a second referendum on Brexit. “A cliff-edge, cataclysmic, hard Brexit would be incredibly destructive to the people of Wales. It’s being promoted by people who do not care what happens to our communities”. He also praised the SNP’s ability to dislodge the Labour hegemony in Scotland and saw them as inspiration for his own party in Wales.
While support for independence is still a minority position in Wales, findings from the latest Future of England Survey suggest that support has increased from 7% to 19% in the space of a year. The research also found that a clear majority of English Conservatives would support Scottish independence (79%) or the collapse of the Irish peace process (75%) as the price of Brexit.
The issue of Brexit seems to be cutting through old unionist ties, something which Price is sure to try and capitalise on by putting Welsh independence firmly at the forefront of his agenda.