Welsh Labour have set up a commission to evaluate and consider Wales’ relationship with the UK, with the topic of independence being on the cards. First Minister Mark Drakeford has stated that nothing will be ruled out of the commission, and anyone will be able to make their case.
The Independent Constitutional Commission will research all aspects of Wales’ relationship with Westminster to determine a better future for Wales, with independence not being ruled out as a possible option. The commission is co-chaired by Professor Laura McAllister, formerly of Plaid Cymru, and Dr Rowan Williams, the Swansea-born ex-Archbishop of Canterbury. They have expressed that the current relationship between the Senedd (Wales’ parliament) and Westminster is not a sustainable one.
As part of the commission, people from all over Wales will be allowed to have their say, which Plaid Cymru have noted will allow an opportunity for the "most wide-ranging national conversation about Wales' future". Welsh Labour, who have formed the body, are officially in support of Wales remaining part of the UK but included plans for the commission in their election manifesto. Along with independence, the commission will also consider further devolved powers to the Senedd, which Drakeford has expressed as his personal preference, saying that he will call for “entrenched devolution within a successful United Kingdom”.
Wales’ current devolved powers include autonomous government over areas such as health and education, however much else, including the army and broadcasting, is still governed by Westminster. Prof McAllister stated that all options would be considered for Wales’ future, saying: "I think everything is supposed to be on the table, quite rightly. So it would be ludicrous to remove any options at this stage". She noted, however, that "It's important to be clear about language. Independence means different things depending on different contexts."
Dr Williams has expressed his views on the matter, saying: "At the moment we have a four-nations model which is pretty imbalanced. Devolved government is something which has been, to some extent, tacked on to an extremely centralised system. It's time we thought through what the implications were for working better for the people of Wales and the people of the UK."
Welsh Conservatives spokesperson Darren Millar claimed that “People in Wales overwhelmingly rejected independence at the recent Senedd elections; and why the Welsh government would want to waste its time and resources discussing the topic is beyond me.”
However, support for Welsh independence has increased exponentially in recent years, with a third of people in Wales supporting Welsh independence as of November 2020, and YesCymru, the campaign for Welsh independence, seeing their membership surge during 2020 from 2,500 in January to 15,000 in November (membership currently stands at 18,000).
The commission will allow for a full view of what Wales wants for its future. Prof McAllister has said, “I don’t think it’s going to be an easy task but Rowan and I will put our backs into making sure we listen to every community and every individual who wants to give us their take on how Wales should be governed.”