UK on the brink: Plaid Cymru leader in furious takedown of Westminster ‘leaches’

Brexit: Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price grilled on his ‘U-turn’

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As Sinn Féin took Northern Ireland’s Stormont devolved government for the first time in history, the UK’s place in politics became unsteady. The republican party campaigned on a promise to hold a referendum on Irish reunification, something its leader Mary Lou McDonald says she hopes will happen within the next five years. Things were made worse for the union in Scotland where the SNP gained on its already concrete hold over the country, winning 22 local council seats and bringing its total to 453 councillors.

In England — where there is no mainstream English independence party — the status quo was tipped towards the Labour Party’s favour, threatening Westminster in a different way.

And in Wales, Labour again ruled supreme, gaining in every part of the country.

Plaid Cymru, the only major party campaigning for Welsh independence also performed well, gaining three council seats and a vast geographical chunk of the country.

Fervour for a UK breakaway is considerably less so in Wales than in Scotland and, as the Stormont elections show, Northern Ireland.

But Plaid continues to gain momentum at each election, with its leader Adam Price currently in a working partnership with First Minister Mark Drakeford, offering the outfit unprecedented access and influence at the top of Government.

Despite this, Mr Price laments what he argues is Wales having decisions made for it, rather than by it.

Speaking to ahead of the local ballot, the leader hit out at what he said was the rule of Wales from abroad, and said: “Political and economical decisions have been made for Wales rather than by Wales.

“If you look at our economy it was an extractive one where a lot of the value was leached out of Wales — we didn’t see that reinvested in building the platform for the future.”

Mr Price was talking about the iron, coal and copper industries in Wales that were the powerhouses that played a huge part in the rapid industrialisation of the UK and the British Empire.

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Production really came into its own in the 19th century, and by 1845, Swansea, South Wales, was producing 55 percent of the world’s output of copper; by 1850, 40 percent of Britain’s iron was produced in the Merthyr Tydfil area — today one of the most deprived regions of the UK.

Millions of tonnes of the natural resources were exported out of Wales and across the world, with wealthy landowners such as the Marquess of Bute and his successors profiting hugely.

But little of this money was put back into the Welsh Valleys — where the resources were extracted from — leading to modern-day grievances and anger, especially since many of the same areas that were worked are now among the most deprived in Britain.

Last year, Welsh Labour asked the UK Government for money to repair abandoned coal tips across the country, estimating that £500million to £600million was needed to do the job — something Westminster refused.


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Things like this anger Mr Price and other Welsh independence supporters, as they would like not to have to reach out to a higher political body but to have the infrastructure in place to make and act on the decisions themselves.

He said: “We could decide as a nation to have those decisions about our economy, democracy, politics — about every aspect of our lives made here in Wales and become free to determine our own future.

“It’s a normal aspiration for any nation to want to determine their own future, it’s written into the charter of the UN.

“This renewed focus [on independence] has come as a result of what’s happening in the world, where we’ve all focused on the rights of nations and self-determination — it’s a key principle that I think everyone should expect and most people in a democratic society would.

“Our belief is that Wales will never achieve its full potential unless it becomes an independent nation, it’s only if you make decisions for yourself that you can make sure that you’ll be able to put yourself on the path you need to be, and to allow citizens of a nation to realise their potential.”

Unfortunately for Mr Price, Welsh independence is unlikely to come anytime soon.

Unlike in Scotland where it is believed around half of the population want a UK breakaway, in Wales, the figure is much lower, around the 30 percent mark.

Independent organisations separate to Plaid Cymru who support independence, like YesCymru, experienced a surge in membership over the pandemic, with chairman Siôn Jobbins previously telling that 15,500 people had joined the group between February 2020 and February 2021.

But some polls continue to turn up bad news for the Welsh independence proponents, including one survey in 2021 that found that 50 percent of people would definitely oppose independence in a national vote.

With Scotland moving ever closer to independence, and Northern Ireland tipped to reunify with Ireland at some point in the next decade, questions are now being asked of Wales’ place in the UK and its relationship to England, and the ultimate destination of the Union.

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