Politics

Plaid Cymru pledge to offer independence referendum

Welsh independence
A march for Welsh independence in Caernarfon. Source: Llywelyn2000 (via. Wikimedia Commons)
Plaid Cymru have formally pledged to offer an independence referendum within the first Senedd term, should they win a majority.

By Daud Briggs

Support for Welsh independence has risen to a similar level of support for Scottish independence about a decade ago, according to Plaid Cymru’s leader, Adam Price.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Price claimed that “more and more” Welsh people supported independence from the UK due to the poor state of the economy and inequality in wealth. He argued:

“We are not going to be able to put Wales on a better path without independence.”

In a 2020 YouGov poll asking if Welsh people would vote for Independence, 33% said yes. This is a significant increase from 24% who voted yes in a similar poll in 2019. Support for independence in Wales is now at its highest.

Economic uncertainty because of Brexit and COVID-19 are likely to be reasons behind the growing support. As well as greater attention being paid to the Welsh Government’s separate decision making powers highlighted by the pandemic. A significant example would be the earlier “firebreak” lockdown in Wales last October, which led to conflict over shutting the Welsh – English border. 

Sion Jobbins, the founder of the independence campaign Yes Cymru, who Gair Rhydd spoke to in November, believes that the different approach to the pandemic between the Senedd and Westminster is leading to the growth in support for Welsh independence.

Jobbins stated:

“At the start of the pandemic the First Minister and the Health Minister would do their ­briefings with a Union Jack and a Welsh dragon in the background. Now it’s just the Welsh dragon. That’s ­significant.”

“This is the first time the Welsh Government has really used its ­powers and people can see it is ­possible for the Senedd to run the country in its own right.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Cymru’s Dewi Llwyd ar Fore Sul, Wales’ Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas said he believed that an independence referendum would not currently be “wise” as there is still a need to strengthen devolution in Wales.

He argued:

“I don’t know if it is wise to hold a referendum on independence here in Wales at the moment but it’s obvious that the discussion on devolution for Wales is not going to subside”.

This comes four months after Plaid Cymru set out a possible roadmap to independence in Wales, stating that if they were able to gain a majority in the Welsh Senedd, they would hold a referendum for independence. On February 13, the party formally approved this pledge.

In a speech at Cardiff Bay in December, Price stated that with demands for a second Scottish independence referendum being “unstoppable”, Wales was in “real danger of being left behind as part of a rump United Kingdom, in a new England-Wales formation – which would be the ultimate worst of both worlds”.

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