The First Minister of Wales has hinted that his support for the nation’s place within the UK is not unconditional, suggesting that if Scotland was to break away from the Union then it would be right for Wales to “reassess” its position.
Mark Drakeford, the Labour leader in the Welsh Assembly, made the claim today in response to a question from Plaid Cymru’s international affairs spokeswoman Delyth Jewell.
Mr Drakeford said: “If you believe the UK is a voluntary association of four nations you have to face the possibility that some component parts of the United Kingdom may no longer choose to be part of it.
“If that were to be the case in future then of course, any sensible political party or government would have to reassess Wales’ place in the components that were there in the future.
“So in that sense it can’t possibly be unconditional because there are other moving parts here of which we are not in control.”
Ms Jewell hailed Mr Drakeford’s comments as a “significant” moment in the history of Welsh devolution.
She said: “The significance of this development cannot be overstated - this is a monumental day in the history of the Welsh nation as a Labour first minister finally admits that independence has to be seriously considered as offering the best future for Wales.
“As the ongoing political crisis engulfing the UK shows no sign of abating, the only responsible course of action for Welsh government now is to urgently begin the work of scoping out how an independent Welsh state would function.
“The first minister must therefore announce an in-depth review of our current fiscal situation in order to prepare us for independence day, building on the excellent work contained in the Government Expenditure and Revenue Wales report by the Wales Governance Centre.”
Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has previously called for a multi-option plebiscite on Wales’ political future by the end of the next decade, but said it could be brought forward depending on the fall-out from the UK’s departure from the European Union.
In an interview with Scotland on Sunday in April, the Assembly Member said the last thing he wanted was for Wales to be left in a “rump UK state” if Scotland chose to follow a separate path.
But he admitted that for any Welsh referendum to happen, Plaid would first have to achieve their “2007 moment” – a reference to when the SNP first took power at Holyrood – and win the next Assembly elections scheduled for 2021.