Andrew Marr quizzes Adam Price on Welsh independence
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A poll for the ITV News Tonight programme, in partnership with Santanta ComRes, found 39 percent of the Welsh population are now in favour of independence from the rest of the UK. In Wales, the top reason for wanting to split was the view that the country has different social attitudes to the rest of the UK (53 percent). Other reasons cited included feeling that Wales is historically a separate nation (51 percent), and the belief the country would fare better if it was independent (46 percent).
Nearly four out of 10 of those quizzed (39 percent) were unhappy with the UK’s response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Thirty-six percent were also found to have greater trust in the Welsh parliament than Westminster.
In Scotland, including “Don’t know” from the sample, the poll shows a small dip in support for Scottish independence, with just over half (53 percent) saying they would like the country to split from the rest of the UK.
Pro-Unionist respondents in each of the UK nations were asked why they wanted to remain as a part of the UK, and listed in the top three reasons was they believed their nation was an important part of the Union.
In response to the findings, a Government spokesperson told the ITV News Tonight programme: “The United Kingdom is the most successful political and economic union the world has ever seen.
“This pandemic and our collective response, from the furlough scheme to vaccine procurement and the backing of our military personnel, has shown that we are at our strongest when we work together towards a common goal.
“The Prime Minister remains fully committed to strengthening and levelling up all parts of the country by empowering local communities and reforming central government.
“He has been clear that all parts of the UK are stronger together and he will always stand against those trying to separate the United Kingdom.
“Now more than ever, people want to see the UK Government and the devolved administrations working together to protect lives and livelihoods across our country”.
Savanta ComRes interviewed 1,008 Scottish adults aged 16+, 1,003 Welsh adults aged 16+ and 510 Northern Irish adults aged 18+ online from February 18-21.
The surge in support for Welsh independence comes after Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said at the end of last year Wales will be offered the chance to hold an independence referendum within five years if the ruling party commands a majority at the country’s parliament elections in May.
The country is currently run by a Labour government but Plaid Cymru will be hoping to displace them from power in two months’ time.
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Mr Price had claimed support for Welsh independence is now at its “highest” in history, and also claimed devolution is under attack from the UK Government in Westminster.
The Plaid Cymru leader added the urgency over holding a referendum had been “accelerated” because he believes Scotland will become an independent nation by 2025 and that Brexit had made a united Ireland possible.
Downing Street would still have the final say over whether a Welsh independence referendum takes place.
But the Welsh Liberal Democrats had lashed out at the plan from Plaid Cymru, claiming “the best future for Wales is within a new UK”.
The party’s Political and Constitutional Reform spokesperson Cadan ap Tomos said Brexit had shown “just how vital it is to keep close ties with our nearest neighbours”.
He added: “Don’t believe those trying to paint this as a binary choice between independence and same old, same old.
“The best future for Wales is within a new UK – we just need the courage to fight for it.”
Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies had also said there is “no scenario whatsoever” in which he would consider leading the country into independence.
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