SNP backlash as independence would ‘weaken Wales’ and ‘make disparity greater’

Nicola Sturgeon urges Douglas Ross to get 'off his phone'

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Scottish independence has risen back to the top of the agenda in recent weeks for the Scottish National Party (SNP). At its conference last month, the party’s leader, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, demanded a new public vote on leaving the UK. She used the platform to call on the UK Government to agree to another referendum on independence. So-called ‘Indyref2’ would follow the 2014 referendum in which Scots rejected seceding from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Westminster has consistently rejected such demands but, speaking at conference, Mrs Sturgeon said that “democracy must – and will – prevail”.

She told SNP members: “My approach to government and to politics will be, as far as possible, cooperation not confrontation.

“The experience of the pandemic and the challenges we face as a result reinforces my view that this is the right approach.

“So, it is in that spirit of cooperation that I hope the Scottish and UK governments can reach agreement – as we did in 2014 – to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected.”

Mrs Sturgeon has been emboldened by her party securing a fourth consecutive term in government at the parliament election in May – albeit one seat short of a majority.

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Referencing her party’s win, she told a conference her administration had an “unarguable mandate” to pursue independence.

Concerns over the break-up of the Union have grown, not only in Westminster, but also in Cardiff. spoke to Rhys ab Owen from Wales’ nationalist Plaid Cymru party about the consequences of Scottish independence.

Mr Owen is a member of the Senedd – or Welsh Parliament – for South Wales Central.

He said: “I would argue it even weakens Wales’s position if Scotland becomes independent.

“You know, England is so much bigger than the other nations already, 56 million compared to Wales’s three and Scotland’s five million.

“With Scotland going that even makes the disparity even greater doesn’t it.”

Plaid Cymru and the ruling Welsh Labour party have both backed the further devolution of powers from London.

However, they disagree on independence, with Mark Drakeford, Labour leader and First Minister, previously saying he is against a Welsh breakaway.

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Despite this, there is still support among Welsh Labour voters and some of the party’s politicians for independence.

The academic-led ‘Welsh Election Study’ carried out during May’s election, showed that of the 28 percent of people who would vote ‘Yes’ in an independence referendum, 41.7 percent voted for Welsh Labour.

Mr Owen claimed Scottish independence would “definitely” show that Welsh independence is possible.

He said: “It also will make people think, ‘do we want to be a part of the United Kingdom that doesn’t include Scotland anymore?’”

The Senedd member added: “I think it would be in favour of the Welsh independence movement when Scotland becomes independent.

“Because people will think, ‘actually do we still want to be part of a Union now when it’s actually just us and England?’

“Things are moving so quickly at the moment; I think Wales needs to get into a position itself.”
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