Plaid Cymru report calls for two referendums on Wales’ future


Independence march in CardiffImage copyright
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Thousands attended independence marches in 2019

A Plaid Cymru-appointed group on Welsh independence has said two referendums should be held on the nation’s future place in the United Kingdom.

Led by former MP Elfyn Llwyd, it says a Plaid government in Cardiff should hold a “multi-choice” referendum to gauge views.

That poll should be used to persuade a UK Westminster government to agree to a referendum on the preferred option.

Mr Llwyd said Wales needs “to have a clear understanding of the options”.

The independence commission was set by Plaid Cymru to look at how the party should prepare for holding a referendum on Welsh independence, should it come to power in Wales.

It says the country is already on a journey towards independence with its own Senedd and powers.

Achieving a break with the union of the UK “will involve agreeing a sovereign constitution”, a report from the group says, and would be achieved through a series of “clear, legal steps, delivered by public servants, including the judiciary, no only within Wales but in other jurisdictions”.

A “statutory National Commission” is proposed, which alongside associated citizen assemblies would “ensure maximum awareness, participation and involvement”.

The commission should “test the views of the people of Wales in an initial exploratory referendum, setting out constitutional options”, the report said

It added that the outcome “should be used to persuade the UK Westminster government to agree to a binary referendum on the status quo versus the preferred choice expressed in the first referendum”.

A Welsh constitution would also be drawn up by the commission, with a consultation held through the assemblies.

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The report says Wales is on the way to being an independent nation

No options for the initial referendum are set out by the report, which proposes a Self-Determination Bill to set the commission up.

Plaid Cymru said it would be up to the national commission “to decide on the terms of the initial referendum”.

Mr Llwyd’s group acknowledged the legislative problems a Plaid Cymru government could face in attempting to get a referendum law passed.

Such a poll would be “the most difficult element of the proposal to accommodate within the Senedd’s legislative competence”, it says.

“A referendum involving the question of whether Wales should be an independent, sovereign state clearly relates to the union of Wales and England.

“Any legislation aiming to hold such a referendum is therefore outside the competence of the Senedd to enact.”

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Elfyn Llwyd chaired the Plaid Cymru independence commission

The report suggests this can be avoided by giving the national commission the power “to hold polls or referenda to ascertain the opinion of the electorate on issues within its remit”.

Mr Llwyd’s commission was “firmly of the view that the long-term destiny of an independent Wales should be as a full member of the European Union”.

It says there is “no immediate prospect of that”, but recommends closer relations with the EU and suggests the national commission should explore joining the European Free Trade Area.

Discussions are proposed with the Scottish Government on the possibility of a “confederal relationship”.

The report argued Wales’ economic position was “not because the country is too small or too poor, but because it is trapped within an economy overwhelmingly shaped in the interests of the City of London”.

An independent Wales “would not longer be a region subordinated to the interests of London and the south east of England, or be subject to the fiscal policies determined by the UK government”, the report said.

What currency would Wales have?

The report does not make a recommendation on what currency an independent Wales should have.

It says “links with England make it more difficult to argue the case for a separate Welsh currency”, with transaction costs on Welsh businesses.

“However, there are advantages in having a separate currency, not least the ability to revalue as appropriate to reflect changes in competitiveness, but these longer-term benefits would have to be forsaken if immediate damage to Welsh firms was to be avoided,” it added.

Mr Llwyd, who chaired Plaid’s independence commission, said: “Many of our people have become aware for the first time of the positive advantages for Wales of possessing its own democratic institutions, the Senedd and Welsh Government.”

The former Dwyfor Meirionydd Plaid MP added: “The Commission believes that independence, providing much greater control of our own affairs, is the status for which Wales should aim.”

When Scotland’s voters were asked in a referendum in 2014 whether the country should become independent, 55% said no.

But the SNP government in Scotland has campaigned for a second poll since the UK’s 2016 decision – in the Brexit referendum – to leave the EU.



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