UK CRUMBLING! Union at breaking point – horror warning issued in damning new dossier
Mark Drakeford delivers speech at Leaders’ Debate
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Wales’s First Minister Mark Drakeford warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson if his approach to managing the Union continued then there would be an increasing prospect of the “break-up of the UK.” Today, the Welsh Government will publish a document titled “Reforming our Union: Shared Governance in the UK” which sets out how the relationship between London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast can be “reset”.
Cardiff says the UK must be based “on a partnership of equals” with regular opportunities for the four governments to work together and manage disputes properly.
Mr Drakeford said: “Throughout my political life I have advanced the case for solidarity among the peoples and nations of the Union.
“However, it has become harder and harder to make the case for the Union, and the threat to it has never been greater during my lifetime.”
The strategy outlines 20 ideas about how the UK can be made stronger and be made to work for the good of everyone living across the UK.
At its fundamental heart, the Labour-run Welsh administration argues the United Kingdom is a “voluntary union of four nations” which come together to “share resources and risks.”
They argue devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a “permanent feature of the United Kingdom and cannot be undone.”
These 20 ideas include a full reform of the House of Lords to reflect the make-up of the United Kingdom with more peers from across Wales and Scotland.
The document also calls on the House of Lords to have a specific job of protecting the constitution and devolution.
Welsh ministers also want to create a new, independent public body to oversee how funding arrangements are made in the UK.
The move comes after the UK Government’s decision to bypass the Welsh Government and directly allocate funding for regional and local development via UK-wide funds through Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s levelling up agenda.
Cardiff now wants an independent public body established to oversee how funding arrangements are made in the UK.
Welsh ministers have also demanded the creation of a Constitutional Convention to be set up.
Ministers say membership of the convention will be with everyone from all parts of the UK which would “properly consider changes to the way the UK is governed and the relationship between the four nations.”
It has also been argued in the document the UK Parliament should not make laws that are decided on in another part of the UK without express consent.
The strategy also added: “Each parliament in the UK – whether that’s the Senedd, the Scottish Parliament, Stormont in Northern Ireland or the House of Commons – should be able to decide its own size and how its members are elected.”
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This Express has also learnt the Welsh Government plans to appeal a legal ruling over the UK internal market bill, a solution by the UK Government to creating a secure platform for UK trade after Britain fully cut ties with the EU.
But concerns were raised that the new legislation, passed last month, would constrain the devolved parliament’s powers.
Mr Drakeford, who will set out the plan in the Senedd today, continued: “Wales’ future is best served by having strong devolution – so decisions about Wales are made in Wales – and by being an equal partner is a strong and revitalised United Kingdom.
“For this to happen, the way the Union works must change.
“And the need for change is urgent – the Union has never been this fragile.
“If matters continue in their current vein the case for the break-up of the UK will only increase.”
Turning to the UK Government’s attitude to the Union, the Welsh First Minister highlighted the announcement by Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden regarding UK flags flying outside UK Government buildings in Wales.
He added: “Beyond slogans, buildings and flag flying, the current UK Government has contributed little to thinking about an energised and viable future for the Union.”
“Too often we see the UK Government act in an aggressively unilateral way, claiming to act on behalf of the whole UK, but without regard for the status of the nations and the democratic mandates of their government.
“We see muscular unionism, instead of working towards a genuinely constructive and collaborative relationship between the governments of the UK.”
The Scottish Government have also backed the document and claimed the intervention from Cardiff made clear the SNP had a mandate for a second independence referendum.
A spokesperson for Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson said: “There is a cast-iron democratic mandate in Scotland for an independence referendum, and this intervention from the Welsh Government makes clear that Boris Johnson’s attempt to block that mandate is utterly ‘undemocratic and inconsistent’ with the claim the UK is a union of equals.”
“This paper also places huge pressure on Scottish Labour to recognise the mandate that exists at Holyrood.
“Their Welsh counterparts clearly take the grown-up, democratic view that election results should not and cannot be denied – a position that the Labour leadership in Scotland should also be adopting instead of siding with the Tories.”
But last night, the Tories accused the Welsh administration of putting on an “unwelcome and unnecessary sideshow” in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew RT Davies MS, Welsh Conservative Senedd leader, said: “Just weeks after the Senedd election, people across Wales will be left scratching their heads at the fact this is now the priority for the latest Labour administration in Cardiff Bay.
“The sole priority for Labour ministers should be Wales’ economic future – not never-ending debates on devolution.”
Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Conservative Constitution spokesman, said: “Last week a Scottish Labour MSP said that Holyrood should be able to veto UK-wide decisions. Now the Welsh Labour First Minister says that the current SNP Government should be able to hold an independence referendum whenever they want.
“It is again clear that Labour cannot, and will not, stand up to the SNP and defend Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom.”
A UK Government spokesperson added: “People in Wales want to see the UK Government and the devolved Welsh Government working together to defeat this pandemic and focus on our shared recovery.
“Choosing to prioritise constitutional issues in the middle of a pandemic is an irresponsible and unwanted distraction.
“We are strongest when we work together as one United Kingdom, and our full focus must remain on recovering from the challenges the pandemic has created- protecting jobs with furlough payments, ensuring our children can catch up on their missed education, and finding jobs for our young people”.
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