Home U.K Mark Drakeford under pressure as growing support for independence in Welsh Labour

Mark Drakeford under pressure as growing support for independence in Welsh Labour

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The First Minister’s hopes of keeping Wales in the UK could be thwarted after a Welsh Labour independence campaigner told Express.co.uk there were many “like-minded” people in the party. It comes as popularity for independence in Wales continues to grow during the coronavirus pandemic. This paper has been previously told that the health crisis has enabled Welsh citizens to “realise that they can govern themselves”, similar to the trends witnessed in Scotland.

Yet, Mr Drakeford, whose Welsh Labour has been successful in elections for over 100 years, currently offers no route to breaking away from the UK.

The First Minister has spoken out against the idea in a recent interview, demanding independence campaigners show him what currency Wales would use.

However, Bob Lloyd, President of the recently launched campaign group Labour for IndyWales, suggested that there are many people in Welsh Labour who favour independence but have yet to voice their support.

Asked how viable Labour for IndyWales was considering Welsh Labour’s official line on the UK, Mr Lloyd said: “I think we’re important to the movement, to the cause of independence and socialism.

Mark Drakeford: The First Minister could be at risk of rising independence popularity

Mark Drakeford: The First Minister could be at risk of rising independence popularity (Image: GETTY)

Welsh independence: Popularity for a UK-breakaway in Wales has grown in the past year

Welsh independence: Popularity for a UK-breakaway in Wales has grown in the past year (Image: GETTY)

“It’s about letting people in the party be open about their support for independence.

“We know the people are there, we know there are a lot of people in the party who are like-minded, it’s just about trying to organise that now and seeing where we’re strongest, where we’re weakest, and seeing where it needs support and doesn’t need support.

“And being able to know what questions we need to answer to convince the rest of the party that independence is the way to go.”

A recent poll carried out by ITV Wales found a record number of people to be in favour of Welsh independence.

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Welsh Labour: The party's current official line is that Wales is stronger in the UK

Welsh Labour: The party’s current official line is that Wales is stronger in the UK (Image: GETTY)

Just under 40 percent of those asked said they would vote “Yes” to breaking away from the UK if a referendum were held tomorrow.

They said social differences between Wales and Britain as a whole, as well as dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic drove their decisions.

It was a significant jump from the broadcaster’s January poll with the same question that found 32 percent to be in favour – itself a record high.

The only mainstream party offering independence in Wales, hoping to nudge Welsh Labour from its position, is Plaid Cymru.

Leader Adam Price, in his 2018 book, ‘Wales: The First & Final Colony’, spoke of the party’s roadmap to independence.

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Scotland: Many fear that Wales could follow in the footsteps of Scotland in the years to come

Scotland: Many fear that Wales could follow in the footsteps of Scotland in the years to come (Image: GETTY)

SÏon Jobbins: The YesCymru chair said membership has sky-rocketed since last year

SÏon Jobbins: The YesCymru chair said membership has sky-rocketed since last year (Image: Facebook/YesCymru)

Mr Price would give the Welsh people a referendum, but would also likely take the country back into the EU.

Many have noted this appears to run in stark contrast to the will of the Welsh people who voted to leave the bloc in 2016.

However, a number of polls in recent months suggest Wales would consider rejoining the bloc if the country were to gain independence.

Around 44 percent of the population would now opt to sign back up post-independence, compared to 38 percent who would say “No”, according to January’s poll.

Keir Starmer: The Labour leader is against any break-up of the Union

Keir Starmer: The Labour leader is against any break-up of the Union (Image: Express Newspapers)

Chair of the independence pressure group YesCymru, Sïon Jobbins, told Express.co.uk that such data proves to him that Wales will become sovereign within the decade.

He noted how YesCymru’s membership had surged from 2,000 in February, to 17,000 today.

He said the health crisis had “enabled the myth fed to Welsh people to be dispelled, that we need Westminster rule”.

EU: Opinions on EU membership in Wales have changed considerably since the 2016 referendum

EU: Opinions on EU membership in Wales have changed considerably since the 2016 referendum (Image: GETTY)

However, Mr Drakeford appears less certain.

When challenged by Plaid MS Helen Mary Jones in the Senedd last month over the question of independence, Mr Drakeford reiterated his opposition to the movement.

Voters go to the ballot box this May for the Welsh elections, ultimately deciding what sort of relationship they want with Westminster in the period leading up to the UK-wide 2024 general election.



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