UK

Nicola Sturgeon beaten to the punch? How Brexit could spark Welsh independence row

More than half of Scots are in favour of Scottish independence, according to a new poll. A recent survey released by Panelbase puts support for independence at 52 percent, making it the second this year, after one conducted by Ipsos MORI, to indicate a Yes majority. The poll, which was commissioned by ScotGoesPop, was taken in the wake of the Dominic Cummings scandal, and asked pollers: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

It suggests that 20 percent of No voters from the last referendum in 2014 would now swap their votes and poll in favour of independence.

According to a recent report by The Times, the SNP are now formulating policies and expecting to unveil a prospectus for a second referendum once the coronavirus outbreak has come to an end.

Speaking during a daily media briefing in early June, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she wants independence “as soon as possible”, but admitted that the coronavirus crisis is her main priority right now.

As uncertainty over the Union continues, a recent report by Darryn Nyatanga, a PhD researcher at the University of Liverpool, suggests Brexit could present the opportunity to awaken the independence quest of another country: Wales.

In an entry for the London School of Economics (LSE) blog, Mr Nyatanga explained: “This can be attributed to two reasons, firstly – independence could be the only way to ensure Welsh interests are met after Brexit.

“Also, there has been a growth in sub-state nationalism within the UK, exposed by the Brexit referendum and the withdrawal process, highlighting the point that the UK is united in name only.”

The academic claimed that the agenda for Welsh independence can only be pushed by a strong sense of nationalism – just like in both Scotland and Northern Ireland.

However, he noted: “In Scotland, nationalism has been spearheaded by the SNP.

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“Within the Welsh context, however, there is a deficiency in terms of nationalism when compared to the other devolved nations.

“This is not to say that Wales has no nationalism. Rather, Wales’ nationalism tends to be embedded in culture rather than institutional.

“Essentially, Welsh nationalism tends to focus on language and tradition, rather than the creation of separate Welsh political institutions.”

Explaining how Wales could constitutionally become independent, Mr Nyatanga said: “Under the current UK constitutional terms, Wales (and England) has no unilateral clause to secede from the Union and become Independent.

“In comparison, both Northern Ireland and Scotland (time-limited) have been granted such a right.

“With regard to the former, the constitutional basis of this right is found under the Good Friday Agreement 1998 and section 1 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

“For Scotland, the constitutional basis of this right was granted temporarily via an Order in Council under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998, for the purposes of holding a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014.

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“While this does not legitimate achieving Welsh independence, Plaid Cymru’s constitutional objectives can still be achieved via the constitutional developments in Scotland.

“A Welsh government that is in favour of independence could negotiate with the UK government for similar powers granted to Scotland in 2014 to hold an independence referendum (this can be achieved via an Order in Council under section 109 of the Government of Wales Act 2006).”

The academic, though, noted that it is clear from the polling data that there is a significant lack of public consensus within Wales for independence.

He said: “Owing to the lack of public appetite, and lack of legal means to do so, it would be very difficult for any Welsh government in favour of independence to achieve this objective.

Mr Nyatanga concluded: “However, fortunes could change as a result of the manifestation of Scottish independence and the conclusions of the Brexit process.

“For now, we are far away from seeing the reality of Welsh independence.”

Despite the lack of support for institutional nationalism shown by the electorate, Wales does still have a nationalist party.

Plaid Cymru (Party of Wales) was formed in 1926.



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