The United Kingdom is closer to breaking up than at any time in 50 years, the first minister of Wales says – as he revealed Cardiff is making preparations for it.
Mark Drakeford warned that only the Labour party is making the case for saving the Union, accusing “bully boy” Boris Johnson of adding to its “fragility” through his actions in No 10.
Liz Truss has been accused of showing similar disrespect to Scotland and Wales, after vowing to “ignore” Nicola Sturgeon and branding Mr Drakeford a “low energy Jeremy Corbyn”.
The first minister said: “I think the risk the United Kingdom will not continue is greater today than at any time in my political lifetime. I certainly don’t think it’s inevitable.”
Speaking to a political podcast, he argued Labour, which is pushing for further devolution, is making “an offer about the United Kingdom that people would wish to buy into”.
But he warned: “We are desperately short of an articulation by any other party of a positive case for a voluntary union.”
The Welsh government has set up a constitutional commission, chaired by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, to examine how to make the Union an ongoing success.
But, Mr Drakeford added: “It has a second question, which is that if the United Kingdom starts not to stay together, what are the options for Wales?
“Because the idea that Scotland leaves and everything else continues as though that hadn’t happened is clearly not plausible at all.
“We’ve never needed to do serious thinking about what the choices for Wales would be and the commission will help us to do that, but we’re having to map out that territory with a seriousness that I think just reflects the risks that we currently face.”
Mr Drakeford, who has warned against a lavish ceremony to crown the new Prince of Wales amid anger over the rushed decision to install him, also referred to his bruising battles with the last prime minister.
“Boris Johnson believed the way to save the United Kingdom was to assert muscular unionism – bully boy Britain, as you might more pejoratively put it – in which the way to secure the future of the United Kingdom was to show who was boss,” he told The Rest is Politics podcast
“And actually that is completely counterproductive and contributes to the fragility of the United Kingdom rather than helping it be something people choose to belong to, and want to belong to.”
However, he played down the campaign for Welsh independence, saying: “There is a growing interest in independence because of the risks to the future of the United Kingdom, that’s inevitable.
“But it would still be….not a small minority, but no more than 20 per cent or so.”