It is extremely unlikely that, as a nation, we would wish to follow our English neighbours and parrot their foreign policy. We have no interest in the legacy of the Empire, the Commonwealth or in projecting military power across the globe. As a small nation, Wales could opt out of the big global policy scene.
No one would criticise us for doing so but let us consider what we could achieve with ambition, determination, planning and intent.
As with domestic policy, Welsh priorities do not align with those pursued at a wider UK level today, and they certainly won’t align when the Union ends. Wales will be seeking its own path and pursuing its goals on the international stage.
No doubt England will work incredibly hard to keep the permanent seat on the UN Security Council exclusively to itself as the Union breaks up. It’s hard to imagine any separation agreement which would allow Wales to keep some influence here after Independence, as this would amount to an effective Welsh veto on any votes or proposals made at the highest level. We would join the UN but merely as ordinary members. This alone would be a satisfying outcome for Wales.
Unbeknownst to many is that one of the original progenitors of the ideas and efforts that led to the League of Nations and, subsequently, the United Nations was the Welshman Henry Richard, MP for Merthyr Tydfil ( aka the ‘Apostle of Peace’). Henry tirelessly crisscrossed Europe in the 19th century sowing the seeds of international cooperation.
So, what can an independent Wales offer on the international stage?
We have a great hand to play, following in the footsteps of Henry Richard. We neither pose a threat to any nation nor are we in a location where others would threaten us. Neutrality and mediation have often been the real power brokers, and this type of power beckons for an Independent Wales.
With a highly-skilled, small, consistent, and cohesive team of diplomats to mediate and negotiate selflessly and objectively, Wales could assert itself as a safe space for sensitive discussions and negotiations. Under the radar, yet working with all sides to resolve conflicts and disagreements even when the main players, for political reasons, are intransigent with each other.
An Independent Wales will not be a new and volatile nation but an old and venerable one, newly minted and released from bondage, with global connections and a history spanning centuries.
Did you know that many of the early American Presidents were Welsh and that there was
considerable Welsh American input into the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776?
As you can see, we are already a nation with a deep historical connection with one global superpower – the USA. And then there is China, with whom we have a shared national symbol, the Dragon. This might seem trivial, and little upon which to build a diplomatic relationship of trust and integrity. Still, symbols are hugely important in the far east, and China is no exception.
Realpolitik would certainly recognise the merit of a third-party forum with no vested interests.
Simply put, Wales could act as a safety valve and conduit for communication when official direct channels have broken down or when domestic sentiments for the relevant players demand political posturing that may not necessarily align with long-term interests.