Independence for Wales is ‘on the Table’ as New Commission Looks at the Future
09:32 GMT 19.10.2021 (Updated: 12:46 GMT 01.03.2022)
© AP Photo / Ben BirchallPeople wave Welsh flags, during a St David's Day Parade in Cardiff, Wales, Friday March 1, 2019
© AP Photo / Ben Birchall
Scotland narrowly missed gaining independence in 2014, with 45 percent voting Yes in a referendum on the issue. While the SNP is campaigning for a second referendum, independence is stirring as an issue in Wales.
A new commission set up to examine the future of Wales will consider the option of independence.
The Independent Constitution Commission, which will be chaired by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Professor Laura McAllister, was created following a pledge in the Welsh Labour Party’s May election manifesto.
Prof McAllister said independence was “on the table", despite much fewer people in Wales than Scotland being in favour of it going alone.
She said: “Everything is supposed to be on the table, quite rightly. So it would be ludicrous to remove any options at this stage. It's important to be clear about language. Independence means different things depending on different contexts.”
An opinion poll published in the Sunday Times in January suggested only 23 percent of people in Wales want to become independent.
Labour, under First Minister Mark Drakeford, is in power in Wales but has been accused by the Conservatives of wasting time and resources on the new commission.
The Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, said the commission was an opportunity to hold the "most wide-ranging national conversation about Wales' future."
In February the then First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, warned the United Kingdom might not exist as a country in a decade.
With Scotland poised for independence - if it is granted a second referendum - and the likelihood of a united Ireland growing by the day, Wales does not want to be left as a very junior party in a rump country.
Technically Wales is a principality within the United Kingdom and the Queen’s son, Charles, is the Prince of Wales. But in reality Wales has only a limited degree of autonomy.
© SputnikWelsh independence marchers at Penderyn Square, Merthyr Tydfil
Welsh independence marchers at Penderyn Square, Merthyr Tydfil
The Welsh Parliament, the Senedd Cymru, in Cardiff is in charge of health, education and social services but foreign policy and economic and industrial policy are set in London.
Mr Drakeford has called for "far-reaching federalism" within the UK.
Welsh Labour is clearly conscious of the political earthquake which shook Scotland in 2014, virtually destroying Labour north of the border overnight.
Labour, which had dominated in Scotland since the 1940s, was almost wiped off the map because its then leader Ed Miliband came to Edinburgh with Tory prime minister David Cameron and spoke out against independence.
Tens of thousands of Labour voters switched to the SNP and few have gone back.
Dr Williams, who was born in Swansea, said: "At the moment we have a four-nations model which is pretty imbalanced. It's time we thought through what the implications were for working better for the people of Wales and the people of the UK."