Wales needs to decide on independence this decade, Plaid Cymru leader says

Wales must decide on whether it will leave the United Kingdom during this decade regardless of developments elsewhere, Plaid Cymru’s leader has said.

Adam Price said he did not want the country to wait on the outcome of a push for independence in Scotland or a “power grab” in Westminster with its controversial Internal Market Bill before deciding whether to call its own in/out referendum.

He claimed breaking away from the union would allow Wales to become “an equal nation” as well as a “nation of equals” by rooting out economic and social injustices in the country.

Mr Price will give a speech to his party’s first ever digital conference on Friday to spell out his vision for Wales under a Plaid Cymru government were it to come out on top at the May 2021 Welsh Parliament election.

Speaking to the PA news agency on Thursday, he said though developments elsewhere in the UK would have an effect on the potential for a Welsh breakaway, Wales’ direction of travel had to be decided on regardless within the next 10 years.

Mr Price said: “It is simply a fact that developments in other parts of the UK are going to impact upon the conversation in Wales on independence.

“That’s true in relation to Scotland and the prospect of there being an independence referendum within the next five years.

“It’s true within Northern Ireland and with Irish unity, and I think it’s also true with what’s happening in England and the power grab that’s happening from Westminster and the increase in a strident form of Westminster superiority complex.

“(But) I wouldn’t want to be in a position where Wales was not deciding on its own future and on the pace of that progress.”

He added: “Wales needs to decide on its national future during this decade. When, precisely? I think we can all have a view and some of that will be impacted by other events in other parts of these islands.”

Asked whether a push for independence would be abandoned by Plaid if Wales rejected the opportunity to leave the UK this decade, Mr Price said: “I hesitate to use the ‘once-in-a-lifetime referendum’ because, as we can see in Scotland, when things change, they change. So I don’t think you could.”

General Election 2019
General Election 2019

He added: “Whatever your position on independence, there are advocates of other types of constitutional future. But the people of Wales deserve a chance to decide where we’re going to go as a nation.

“In the future, I think we need to have that conversation and we need to decide on that at some point during this decade.”

Mr Price said although Plaid would keep to its values of social and economic justice, he would attempt to build support across the political spectrum and appeal towards the right with support for small business and “building up the Welsh middle”.

“That’s an idea which appeals to people that are in the business community that are in favour of entrepreneurship, etcetera. Seeding Welsh entrepreneurship is an important part of our economic solution,” he said.

“We’re moving from this sort of grant mentality, chequebook economics, trying to attract companies from across the world as the only way to solve our problems rather than actually investing in our own.

“This sort of ‘local-first’ policy, that’s the message I think will resonate across the political spectrum.”