Home U.K 'The UK is over!' Welsh independence surge erupts as First Minister Drakeford...

'The UK is over!' Welsh independence surge erupts as First Minister Drakeford hits out


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The Welsh Labour leader warned the union could splinter if politicians only offered a “tweaking of the status quo” and claimed Boris Johnson’s lack of engagement with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland undermined efforts to keep them together. He told the Commons Welsh Affairs Committee a new devolution settlement was needed after the pandemic had caused a rise in polarised opinions about Wales’ future, including support for Welsh independence as well as for abolishing devolution.

We have to recognise that the union as it is, is over. We have to create a new union

Mark Drakeford

Mr Drakeford insisted he wanted to keep the UK intact but came under fire for boosting Welsh separatism just as the movement is gaining support.

Stephen Crabb, the former Welsh Secretary and chairman of the Welsh Affairs Committee, said: “Mark Drakeford’s vision of a hollowed-out United Kingdom held together by the loosest of ties is a blueprint for national division and decline.

“Federalism is the rallying cry of those who have given up on the Union.”

Mark Drakeford

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford said the United Kingdom was ‘over’ (Image: PA)

Mr Drakeford told MPs the coronavirus pandemic had polarised opinion in Wales about the way it should be governed.

He said: “What we have to do – to quote a Conservative member of the Senedd, David Melding – is we have to recognise that the union as it is, is over. We have to create a new union.

“We have to demonstrate to people how we can recraft the UK in a way that recognises it as a voluntary association of four nations, in which we choose to pool our sovereignty for common purposes and for common benefits.”

Mr Drakeford said the “relatively random basis” on which the UK Government engages with the devolved Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations “is not a satisfactory basis to sustain the future of the United Kingdom”.

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Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford addresses the Commons Welsh Affairs Committee (Image: PA)

Stephen Crabb

Pembrokeshire MP Stephen Crabb has criticised Mark Drakeford (Image: PA)

He said: “There is no institutional architecture to make the United Kingdom work.

“It is all ad-hoc, random, and made up as we go along. And I’m afraid that really is not a satisfactory basis to sustain the future of the UK.

“And if I have an anxiety about the lack of regular engagement between the Prime Minister and other parts of the UK, it is more that I think without that then the security of the future of the UK becomes more difficult.

“Without the Prime Minster playing his part in all of that, I think it undermines the efforts of those of us – and I include myself certainly in this – who want to craft a successful future for the UK.”

Mr Drakeford called for “an entrenched form of devolution which cannot be unilaterally rolled back by any one party”, and one that “could not be interfered with in the way we have seen so vividly in recent months”.

His comments referred to the Welsh Government’s criticism of the UK Government’s replacing of EU Structural Funds by directly allocating funding in Wales on devolved matters through the Shared Prosperity Fund, as well as the controversial Internal Market Act.

Mr Drakeford described UK parliamentary sovereignty as “a redundant notion” and that the union should be recrafted to work like the European Union, United States or Australia.

He said: “The idea that sovereignty is held only in one place and is handed out to other places, but always on a piece of string so it can be pulled back to the centre at any moment when the centre requires, I think that is over.

“The European Union will be an example potentially but Canada, or Australia, or the United States, are examples of what I talked about, where sovereignty is dispersed amongst its component parts and pooled back together again for those central purposes.”

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Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson’s ‘remote’ relationship with the devolved nations is ‘harming’ the UK (Image: PA)

Mr Crabb, Conservative MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire, asked Mr Drakeford if there was a “meeting of minds” between him and Mr Johnson, describing the men as “both classics scholars”.

But Mr Drakeford described his relationship with the Prime Minister as “remote”.

He told the committee: “Both in the sense that I’ve met him only once myself – I’ve been at a number of meetings where there’s been large numbers of other people present – and he is yet to call a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee of first ministers and himself.

“In that sense I would say I’ve had a very modest level of contact with the Prime Minister. And the remoteness isn’t just in that way, I’m afraid we rarely have a meeting of minds.”


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