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.