A new union: independent nations for the common good

Leanne Wood says that Wales cannot be a silent partner in the post-Brexit redesigning of the UK

Last Thursday, Wales voted narrowly to Leave the European Union and the tectonic plates of the United Kingdom shifted for good.

The referendum campaign itself saw a tone of bitterness and uneasiness descend across the country, and across the United Kingdom as a whole, as people turned against Brussels as a source of frustration.

What we must remember is that the Leave campaign secured their victory on the basis of a Vow made to the Welsh people.  They said that up to £490m per year would be available to Wales, which we could choose to spend on our NHS.  This represents a sum of money above and beyond what has usually been predicted through reform of the Barnett formula, for example.

The Leave campaign also vowed that all of Wales’ structural funds and agricultural funds would be protected.  In this Vow they also included the funds which benefit our Universities and our science and technology sector, and they also said that the United Kingdom could take control of its own borders, and could also continue to trade with the European Union.

Time will tell whether this Vow will be upheld, but the promise of £490m per year seems to have disappeared already. We must accept that the result was to Leave, but also that that vote was secured on a false prospectus.

The reality now is that the United Kingdom will change – in a few years’ time the UK of last Wednesday will in all likelihood not exist.  The referendum, rather than uniting the United Kingdom, has divided it, causing Scotland and northern Ireland to consider their futures.

While this happens, Wales cannot afford to become a forgotten part of an ‘EnglandandWales’ entity. When that new situation in the British Isles emerges, it is my view that the people of Wales deserve to have their say on our place in that context.  That discussion must include the option of Wales becoming a full partner in these islands as an independent state, on the condition that we retain a union structure between Wales, England and the other relevant nations.

This situation is not of Plaid Cymru’s making, but we believe that redesigning the current UK is the only option. We can create a new union of independent nations, working together towards a common good. 

Plaid Cymru will hold the Leave campaign to account on its Vow to Wales, including any incoming UK Government. We will take steps to strengthen Wales’ position constitutionally, in no way interpreting the Leave vote as a vote to concentrate further powers at Westminster. And we are ready to co-operate with others in ensuring the continued existence of Wales as nation in our own right. But Plaid Cymru is clear that the national debate must include all options, and that Wales must not be a silent partner in the UK debate.

Leanne Wood is Leader of Plaid Cymru

10 thoughts on “A new union: independent nations for the common good

  1. There needs to be a public acknowledgement from Leanne that she accepts that many Plaid voters – and members – voted Leave. According to Lord Ashcroft’s poll a majority of Plaid voters chose Leave.

  2. Independence I understand and support, but what is this Union of Independent Nations and why should our independence be conditional on its creation?

  3. There’s something of a standing joke in Wales that the biggest political party by membership is former members of Plaid Cymru.
    I was reminded of this maxim by Leanne’s article. When I and many like me joined the party – long ago it seems now – it was clearly and unambiguously committed to “Self Government…and a seat for Wales in the UN.” Once the party enjoyed the gentle beguiling taste of power that followed the 1997 referendum and (partial) electoral success, that went out of the window with Dafydd Wigley’s famous “we have never believed in independence” rant. This resulted in many astonished members walking out the door.
    Things it seems have not changed, prevarication rules. Leanne refers to “a union structure” and that “we retain a union structure,” whatever that means.
    No. If independence is the way forward and indeed (was??) the very reason for the existence of her party, then she should be bold, brave and uncompromising – the way forward is for Wales to join the world. While England leaves.
    Er…..by the way. I’m a fully paid up member of the party referred to in the opening paragraph. For those of you interested – our Country’s name is Cymru, which means that in the alphabetical rule of the UN, we will sit between Cuba and Cyprus. What a thought.

  4. More devise rhetoric from Plaid. A “narrow” victory in Wakes? Promises from the Leave Campaign?
    Just in case I’ve sleept a decade, can someone confirm if it’s still a Tory government in London and a Labour government in Wales?

    When will Plaid put families before fanaticism? When will Plaid put Wales before Brussels? When will they have an economics strategy that does not involve a begging bowl. I’m surprised Leanne has not been relaced by Bob Geldof.
    You are losing credibility because you are listening to men with yesterday’s dream.

  5. I think Nathan Gill should have a big say in wales because leanne wood is out of touch and her and Carwyn Jones constituencies voted out. The Welsh assembly wastes millions. ALL politicians are crooks and were able to hide behind the eu.

  6. Plaid have long linked an independent Wales to a European union framework, that is still a viable and positive ambition. However, this EU, is not the framework that will serve Wales or its citizens. Plaid and some of the other left parties in Wales, crushed debate and failed other European countries who have literally been taken over against the will of the people and their own government. The whole referendum campaign was promoting the fear narrative and reducing it to a choice between neo liberalism or fascism. Cheap, limited, visionless.

    In one week we have seen Plaids leadership flapping around for a position, from a labour coalition, stamped out by some AMs. To the ‘strong opposition’ position, which in reality, is still a coalition, providing support for a Unionist, Blairite, Labour administration. The post election deal was cleverly couched with enough informal ‘this and that’ verbal chaff to distract. Doing this, denied a vote to their membership. It was a ruse the leadership chose, knowing a formal coalition deal would not pass the membership. Now? Now Plaid are waving the flag for independence, or is it independence within a dependent union or the interdependence of a union of independent dependencies?

    The desperation of plaid scrabbling for popular position is embarrassing and shows a distinct lack of strategy. If discussion and debate could have been fostered over the last year, they may have realised many Plaid members were for leave, and a clear strategy formulated. Many people do have a clear vision of how Wales could prosper outside of the EU but they have been side lined by the leaderships position.

    Neil McEvoy, AM and candidate for Cardiff West, and Nigel Copner, AM candidate for Blaenau Gwent, showed that engaging the poorest in our communities is the most effective way Plaid can progress. Immediately following the referendum, to label those voters as ignorant racists, however subtly, is a disgrace. Those communities will not forget that. Those communities resent that. If there was an election tomorrow, most of those gains will have been wiped out.

    Plaid joined the narrative of fear and dependence. At no point did they raise the reality of the EU. It is an undemocratic plutocracy, forcing sovereign states into a unified state through economic oppression, against the will of the people and the laws of those nations. Presenting the EU as a mix of generous benefactor and the European version of the Glastonbury festival, was dishonest and damaging. It is neither of those things.

    Plaid have exposed themselves as just another limited, neo liberal party. A political elite sneering at the reality of a working class culture that doesn’t fit into their liberal middle class values system. Trading hope and vision for the fear dictated by the EU. Swapping the commitment to build and empower communities; with their false proclamation of decentralist socialism, trading those ambitions for deeper dependence.

    The morning after the referendum and most of wales decided they were experts on Ebbw Vale, confused as to how a community that had supposedly benefited so much from the EU, rejected it so strongly. The answer is experience. The day today reality of being disenfranchised, patronised, sneered at and then left in poverty. That reality has been there for decades, and has been ignored in favour of neo liberal economics and middle class cultural assimilation. A reality bypassed through the embarrassment of a political elite who are not comfortable with working class culture and their many soft ism’s.

    I feel bad that the middle class will have to fill in a visa to go to Spain, or their Chablis will go up a few pence, my heart literally bleeds. Actually no, my heart bleeds for Greek pensioners who can’t pay for food, Bulgarians exploited by gangmasters on British farms and for the millions of poor Europeans who will suffer the coming collapse of the EU economy. It bleeds for Welsh workers whose average wages have been suppressed by nearly 20% over the last decade, via a mix of austerity and cheap labour.

    The left in Wales needs to stop wandering around arrogantly pushing out it’s chest in some display of bravado, ready to take on the brexiteers, ready to suspend democracy, ready to condemn those who voted out as ignorant racists. Plaid need to stop throwing it’s lightweight around, ‘holding so and so to this, do this, take that, be this, make that, we know best attitude’; the referendum proves they know nothing. They need to humble themselves before the working class and seek to serve them. Engage, learn, adapt, be them. It must become all the working class, from Port Talbot to Gdansk, if it is to insist on its European dimension.

    Leanne Wood needs to thank the members of Plaid who stuck to their socialist ideals and voted leave. They may have cost her her job, but they saved this nation, they saved Europe, Plaid just don’t know it yet. She can thank them later.

  7. Ah… “A narrow majority” well clearly that must be challenged. I look forward to Plaid’s demand for a re-run of the devolution referendum. Leanne seems to know that everyone in Wales who voted leave did so on the clear understanding that we would get as much money from the UK government as we received from the EU. Yeah, right…we are all REALLY gullible but none so gullible as those who vote Plaid.

    The struggle for a “position” which demands independence for Wales post Brexit is so farcical. Listening to Plaid, who would believe that Brexit won the vote in Wales? Leanne told everyone that people supporting UKIP weren’t really Welsh, well that rather nasty comment now excludes more than half the voting age population of Wales.

    Now then, what’s the vision? In a phrase I suppose it’s “let’s suck up to whoever guarantees us the most money in the begging bowl.” How wonderfully edifying.

  8. I am still waiting for the response from miss wood to the question i sent her. The eu was dedicated and enshrined in its unchangebale aims to a european superstate with no independent nations. So i am puzzled by plaids stance on an independant wales. This will never happen in the eu ever. Spain and france have told scotland it will never happen ever.
    That means plaid and the snp have led its members down a blocked road.
    Like many i am sick of business as usual for the elites and parties. The way forward is to embrace a new collective innthe uk union which gives greater power to the people. Also to get on with our central position in the worlds second biggest market The Commonwealth. 53 distinct nations on five continents and an annual gdp bigger than china. It is currently the only international body which recognises wales scotland and nortern ireland as distinct nations. The opportunities for wales dwarf that offered by a failing eu.
    So miss wood will you help me haul that unrepresentative eu flag down outside the assembly and haul up the commonwealth flag instead and get into the market of 2.2billion people and a charter for human rights already agreed (the westminster charter).

  9. We had a United Kingdom for the common good. Turned out the common good was what was good for the south east and everyone else could go to hell, with Mess-minster squandering billions of pounds on its pet projects and pathetically trying to punch above its weight to impress America. It didn’t. A new union of independent nations will follow the same path, what is best for London is best for everyone, as long as you move to London. That can no longer hold water. With Brexit the financial sector in London will be hit, that accounts for 75% of our GDP, it wouldn’t dry up overnight and it will still be a middle ranking player but our GDP will plummet. Without the banking system in London and Scottish oil it’s simply goodnight England and Wales.

  10. This article is based on a false assumption, that someone made a ‘Vow’ – capital ‘V’ – to the people of Wales. There is no record of such a ‘Vow’ – capital ‘V’ or small – nor can there be, for no one has the standing to make one. Except for UKIP, the various ‘Leave’ campaigns were ad hoc organisations, presumably now being wound up, not political parties with ongoing existence, nor was the referendum a general election, after which the winners took power. That much should have been obvious, certainly to a party leader, or at least her constitutional advisers.

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