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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Commission set to release first findings on case for Welsh indy

THE first official body examining the case for Welsh independence is expected to issue findings on the future of the constitution within weeks.

More than 2000 responses have been submitted so far as part of the “national conversation” being held by the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, according to its latest progress report.

The group, which was set up by the Labour Welsh government, has been looking at all options for the constitution – such as independence, federalism and “devo-max” – since it met for the first time in November last year.

Co-chaired by Laura McAllister, professor of public policy at Cardiff University and former archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, it has the stated aims of considering options for “fundamental reform of the constitutional structures” of the UK, as well as to “develop all progressive principal ­options” to strengthen ­democracy and ­deliver ­improvements in Wales.

Plaid Cymru said it had taken “full advantage” of the opportunity to present the case for Welsh ­independence.

In a statement to the Senedd last week, Welsh constitution minister Mick Antoniw, above, confirmed the group is expected to deliver its initial findings by the end of 2022.

He said: “The First Minister, the leader of Plaid Cymru and I ­recently met the co-chairs to discuss their work.

“They advised that they are on track to deliver their interim report by the end of this year. I will provide members again with a further update after receipt of that report.”

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Since July, the commission has met to hear evidence on seven occasions, from a range of contributors including Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, representatives from the Welsh LibDems, Green Party and Plaid Cymru. UK minister David Lidington, who currently hold the post of Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has also participated.

In June, McAllister said that the status quo of the Union is getting close to the point where it “simply can’t survive”.

She also highlighted how independence is one of the constitutional options being considered by the commission, with representatives from all four main political parties in Wales taking part “positively”.

She said the remit for the ­commission was to consider all ­constitutional options for Wales in the future, both within and outside the Union.

“I am not sure in any other part of the UK would you see an ­avowedly Unionist party like Labour ­supporting a terms of reference that allows an independent commission to ­consider clearly independence alongside federalism, confederalism, devo-max, ­extensions to devolution and so on,” she added.

Last month All Under One Banner Cymru (AUOB) and Yes Cymru held a march and rally for Welsh independence in Cardiff, with around 10,000 people taking part according to organisers.

Delyth Jewell, who is a Plaid Cymru Member of Senedd (MS) for South Wales East, said creating an independent Wales must be the “work of an entire nation”, rather than just one party.

She said: “The importance of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales cannot be understated.

“It’s the first official body – with the full support of the civil service machine, no less – to have in its remit, an examination for the case for Welsh independence.

“Plaid Cymru has taken full advantage of the opportunity to present the case for Welsh independence to the Commission.”

She added: “But this needs to be a story that develops with the input of all of the people of Wales.

“To hear that the commission has already received 2000 responses more than a month before the deadline is extremely encouraging.

“As the UK economic model proves time and time again that it is broken, discussion about ­constitutional reform has never been more important.”



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