Below is a copy of the letter that has been sent to all Labour MSs and MPs
Dear First Minister, Welsh Government ministers, Labour Senedd Members, and Labour Members of Parliament,
You will no doubt be aware of the constitutional crisis brewing in Westminster. Therefore I am writing to you as Chairperson of YesCymru, the grassroots campaign for an independent Wales, to request that you:
- Clarify your plan for securing Welsh interests in light of the dangers posed by the UK Internal Market (UKIM) Bill;
- Articulate your “plan B” for protecting Wales’ constitutional future, in the event of the break-up of the UK; and
- Commit to including a statement in your 2021 Senedd manifesto stating that the right to call any future referendum on independence should sit entirely with the Senedd.
Wales voted to leave the EU. Many Labour supporters voted to leave the EU, as did some supporters of YesCymru. While a number will have voted to “take back control”, not one voted for powers to be taken from the Senedd and concentrated at Westminster. And yet this is exactly what the UKIM Bill does. Jeremy Miles, Counsel General and Minister for European Transition in the Welsh Government, on examining the white paper, was quoted in the Financial Times stating plainly that the proposal “represent[s] a direct attack on the current model of devolution” and “emasculate[s] the current rights of the devolved institutions to implement changes to the regulatory environment.” Given that, according to a recent YouGov poll, an overwhelming majority of the people of Wales trust the Senedd to look after the interests of Wales, as compared to fewer than three in ten who trust Westminster to do so, I would request that you clarify your plan for securing Welsh interests in light of the dangers posed by the UKIM Bill.
A second, less certain, effect of the UKIM Bill is the acceleration of the break-up of the UK. The same article in the Financial Times quotes Jeremy Miles as stating exactly that. His assessment is supported by two recent polls which show that the majority of Scots support independence for their country, and by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that the SNP’s manifesto for the 2021 Holyrood elections will contain a commitment to hold a second independence referendum. Former First Minister Carwyn Jones was quoted by ITV News as saying that “if Northern Ireland voted to join with the south and Scotland left, I don't think England and Wales works...it is possible for us to slip into it [independence] without having any choice...A bad Brexit carries with it the seed of the UK's own disintegration.” Given the almost certain passage of the UKIM Bill through the UK House of Commons, I would request that you articulate your “plan B” for protecting Wales’ constitutional future, in the event of the break-up of the UK.
When considering Wales’ constitutional future, I and the other members of YesCymru would support our country being independent. However, no matter whether you support the status quo, favour greater devolution, or agree with a majority of Welsh Labour voters that all decisions about Wales are best made solely by the people of Wales, I would hope that you can agree that Wales’ future should be decided by the people of Wales, and not by the UK government. Therefore, given that the same YesCymru YouGov poll showed that a majority of people believe that the Senedd should have the power to call a referendum on independence, including 80% of Welsh Labour voters, I would request that you commit to including a statement in your 2021 Senedd manifesto stating that the right to call any future referendum on independence should sit entirely with the Senedd.
The unprecedented global pandemic that we are all currently living through was unforeseeable. The present constitutional crisis, on the other hand, has long been anticipated. It would be entirely remiss of the Welsh Government, and of the party that the people of Wales have entrusted with their interests for over a century, to ignore its dangers and to not grasp its opportunities by failing to plan for all eventualities.