Finance Secretary, Mark Drakeford, says the Welsh Government will not be seeking to represent Welsh interests during crucial Brexit negotiations.
The minister, who chairs a Brexit advisory team, says the priority for the Welsh Government will be to find ‘solutions’ for the whole of the UK and not for the country his party governs.
He made the statement as a response to campaign group, Yes Cymru, who are calling on the Welsh Government to stand up to Westminster amidst the constitutional flux caused by the Brexit vote.
With the imminent triggering of Article 50 and plans for a second vote on Scottish independence, Yes Cymru fear that national interests look set to be completely overlooked as Wales is treated as an appendage of England.
Mark Drakeford is chair of the European Advisory Group, a group created to advise the Welsh Government on the ‘challenges and opportunities’ arising from UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Yes Cymru say these challenges can only be met if Wales starts to a move towards independence, seeking those powers that are required for a country to safeguard a better future for its citizens.
Responding to Yes Cymru, Mark Drakeford said the Welsh Government does not view independence as being a ‘desirable’ goal and they intend to prioritise UK interests during any Brexit negotiations. He states:
“The Welsh Government is very clear that independence is not a desirable or viable option for Wales, given the economic, social, environmental and cultural inter-dependencies of Wales and England.
“The task of the Welsh Government – with the assistance of the European Advisory Group – is to find a solution to the problems posed by Brexit which will underpin the prosperity of the whole of the UK.
“The process of withdrawing from the EU is likely to be both lengthy and challenging, with many hard negotiations along the way. However, my priority is to deliver a Brexit that will work best for the people of Wales wherever they may live.”
Yes Cymru argue that ambitious plans launched by the Welsh Government to safeguard the future well-being of the people of Wales can only be achieved with increased control over the country.
They warn that, despite admirable intentions, the ambitious Well Being of Future Generations Act currently stands no hope of achieving its aims – to improve the nation’s social, economic and cultural outlook.
The letter to Mark Drakeford states:
“Securing independent national status for Wales would safeguard our economy, protect our families, help secure our futures, enable us to enter a new phase of integration with our European neighbours and protect us from the alarming growth of extreme right wing politics in Westminster.”
The Future Generations Act, made law in 2015, places a duty on public bodies to ensure all developments are sustainable by adhering to seven well-being goals.
Yes Cymru is a campaign group launched in 2014 to promote Welsh independence. The organisation now has branches throughout Wales with a growing membership and cross-party support.