Wales’s first minister has called for a “radical redrawing” of the United Kingdom in order for it to survive the threat of independence movements.
Mark Drakeford said independence was a “ninth century response to a 21st century problem” and that a new union should be formed based on the UK’s four nations being equal and sovereign.
The Welsh Labour leader’s comments on Thursday came after he spoke at the launch of a report authored by Labour party members calling for a reform of the UK’s constitution, titled We, The People: The Case For Radical Federalism.
Mr Drakeford said the breakup of the UK is “a real and present danger” and that Wales’s future would be best secured through a “powerful and entrenched devolution settlement, within a successful United Kingdom”.
He said: “It cannot be a defence of the status quo.
“It cannot be a surrender to the simplicities of unionism or nationalism.
“It has instead to be a radical redrawing of the United Kingdom.
“What we have to create is a new union – and this paper gives us many of the ideas which will be straightforwardly necessary if that project is to succeed.
“It is based on the simple but profoundly radical proposition that the United Kingdom is a voluntary association of four nations, where sovereignty is dispersed amongst four democratically elected legislatures.
“As much as possible, decisions which affect people’s daily lives should be made as close to the people as possible, but where the component parts of the United Kingdom choose to come together to pool resources and to share rewards, then that is also a powerful part of the deal.”
The report said the need for reform was “even more urgent” following the introduction of the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill, which it said denies Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland “intrinsic devolution powers” following Brexit and instead hands them to Westminster.
The Welsh Conservatives’ shadow health minister, Andrew RT Davies, accused Welsh Labour of “obsessing” over powers and criticised Mr Drakeford for his involvement in launching the report.
He said on Twitter: “Sad to see Labour once again obsessing over powers – if only they focused on the ones they already had.
“Surprised the First Minister has time to introduce such a report when he can’t even tell us how many people aged 80-plus in Wales have been vaccinated.”
Plaid Cymru MS Delyth Jewell said: “These are yesterday’s ideas from yesterday’s party.
“Labour had 13 years in power in Westminster to deliver radical devolution for Wales and failed.
“They again promised a ‘radical extension of devolution’ in 2017, as did (Sir) Keir Starmer during his leadership campaign only to now deny Scotland’s right to hold a new referendum on independence.
“A broken record won’t save a broken union.”