Skip to comments.From Brexit to independence: What's next for Wales?
Posted on 12/19/2019 12:07:49 AM PST by Cronos
I could tell the way things were going when, in the last week of the election campaign, it became clear that the Conservatives were ahead in Ynys Môn and nervously confident in Newport West.
Two very different seats that in their different ways told me the sort of movement that was going on.
If voters on Anglesey were ignoring the selection problems of the Conservatives and criticism of the candidate from other parties, where else would they be ignoring such issues?
And although the Tories didnt win Newport West, the fact that they were actually worried about saying they were close suggested to me they were picking up some serious switching in places that would make a difference.
When I used the landslide word in conversations with senior Conservatives, they looked panicked and played it down.
It may not have been a landslide, but it was a success. Boris Johnson has the parliamentary majority to get his Brexit deal through the commons and to press ahead with his plan to leave the European Union on the terms of his deal.
Thats now a given, but he and his party have a bigger task. They won over Labour voters this time in a very specific set of circumstances. Once Brexit has become a reality and Jeremy Corbyn has gone as Labour leader, theres no guarantee that those who gave him the benefit of the doubt last night will do so again.
How will he persuade them to stick with the Conservatives in the future?
All eyes will now be on Sajid Javids first budget. Based on what his party promised, here are some commitments to Wales that I will be expecting to see action on or an explanation as to why they havent happened.
EU funds to match levels already spent in Wales
The Conservative manifesto gave details of the very long-awaited UK Shared Prosperity Fund designed to replace EU aid currently received by Wales.
The UK manifesto promised at a minimum [to] match the size of EU funds in each nation,' while the Welsh document clearly stated that Wales will receive at least the same level of financial support as it currently receives from the EU.
Thats currently £295m a year in structural funding and £274m a year in payments to farmers.
A free port in Wales
Each nation of the UK was promised a free port with different tax and tariff rules to encourage trade. The manifesto commits to one in Wales.
The Marches Growth Deal
This is a pledge to plough money into improving the cross-border infrastructure in parts of mid-Wales and the bordering areas of England.
Road and rail
Controversially, the UK manifesto explicitly states that we will upgrade the A55 and ensure the delivery of an M4 relief road.
Responsibility for both roads in Wales are devolved, so unless the new UK government intends to compel the Welsh Government to act then the reality will mean little more than demonstrating that its given ministers in Cardiff the resources needed and, in the case of the A55, carrying out improvements on the English stretch.
The Conservative manifesto also promises to fund the building of the West Wales Parkway [railway] station.
Health and education
Both are devolved and in both areas the Conservatives promised to spend significantly more money, and for that to mean increased resources for the Welsh Government to follow suit or not.
A reshuffle, probably on Monday, which may or may not see a new Welsh Secretary appointed.
Alun Cairns is still the subject of a civil service investigation into whether or not he broke the ministerial code.
Whatever the result, that wont answer many of the criticisms levelled at him. Therell be a very loud outcry if hes reappointed and every time he speaks in public or is interviewed hell face those difficult questions.
There are rumours that there may not be a Welsh Secretary, and that Boris Johnson may take the opportunity to merge the departments of the nations into a big Department of the Union, led by a heavy-hitter such as Michael Gove and supported by ministers for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland whod sit below cabinet level.
Since devolution in 1997, theres always been a certain logic to such a merger, and Tony Blair tried (and failed) to do just that. Expect strong objections if it were to happen.
The road to 2021
All parties in Wales will now turn their attention to the Assembly election in 2021.
The Welsh Conservatives know that their campaign suffered some serious problems, some of their own making, some not. They also know that this General Election result was due to a specific set of circumstances and virtually nothing to do with Welsh issues or rather devolved issues. How they translate success this week into success in 18 months is what their task will be.
Labour at a UK and Welsh level now has to undergo a time of soul-searching, as well as choosing a new leader. Thats going to be painful and risks tearing apart an already fragile party. The left-right divide is only going to deepen with different strands of the party determined to keep hold of or take back control.
Here in Wales, Mark Drakefords Labour has a choice whether or not to continue sticking to the Corbynite project which he clearly believes in or to re-emphasise Welsh Labours distinct identity and difference.
As an adviser to Rhodri Morgan, he coined the phrase Clear Red Water to summarise that position. Many within the Welsh party, both critics and supporters, tell me hes much more committed to that than sometimes appears. He may have to open the clear red water sluice-gates in the months leading up to the Assembly election.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats may well have to choose a new leader although they dont appear to be in a great rush. The party in Wales changed its rules after the previous wipeout, so that non-MPs or AMs could be leader and Jane Dodds wasnt an MP when she was elected to the post. Im told theres not a great desire among members for a new leader which suggests it will be up to her if she feels she can carry on.
Alongside all of this, I expect to see tensions over the union of the United Kingdom increase.
Scotlands First Minister has made it clear shell move quickly to put the legal case for a new independence referendum there. She can certainly argue that she has the political mandate to hold one just as Boris Johnson can argue that the result gives him a mandate to leave the EU on the basis of his deal.
That doesnt mean he won't resist demands though. In fact, I wouldnt be surprised to see him refuse and the Scottish Parliament push forward with a referendum of its own which could lead to a Catalonia-style standoff and the risk of unrest that could bring.
What I think that could mean for Wales is increased support for independence here. In the 1980s and 1990s support for devolution grew, in part, in response to majority Conservative governments.
Well, devolution is a reality and has been for 20 years. Any calls for greater autonomy based on political frustration only really has independence into which to be channelled.
I predict Welsh Labour figures move towards being indycurious, and if Scotland votes to leave, Id expect the calls to become howls.
How Boris handles the Cymru expectations will drive the direction of the independence movement -- I don't see any "noise" for Welsh independence in the next 5 odd years.
This writer really likes “devolved” for some obscure reason. Must a very involved and revolved subject.
Any coal left in Wales?
Next to none and the amount left is uneconomical to get out. Wales has little going for it economically unless it works on tourism, but even that is little.
Scottish “Independence” is a joke.
They have none of the basic welfare state structures that they would need to administer the social insurance state that those socialists would expect.
Collecting income taxes ? Nope. HM Customs and Excise collect that. Same with VAT. Same with Corporate taxes. Same with payroll taxes.
Socialized medicine ? Nope. Currently administered by the NHS.
Unemployment insurance ? Welfare ? Pensions ? Nope. Administerd by the UK government.
When Quebec had it’s first separation referendum in 1980, they already had all the welfare state institutions they would need already up and operating.
By comparison, Scotland “independence” pretensions are a joke - and that goes double for Wales.
Devolution is/was a big thing in the UK.
Until 1997 the UK was one of the most centralized states in the world - probably the most along with France. Whitehall would define even local council matters.
Tony Blair devolved i.e. gave the constituent nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern ireland more rights to govern themselves.
They still have less powers than US states, but better than before 1997
That’s true - they don’t have the structures to run themselves independently now.
In fact they have far less freedom than American states.
That’s why they want independence.
There is no evidence that they do want independence. Most polls consistently show a majority for the union. They failed the last vote despite trying to gerrymander it by allowing gullible 16 year olds and foreign residents the right to vote. No British government is going to be that stupid a second time.
As for an illegal Catalonian style referendum, all Boris would have to do was tell unionists to boycott it. Thereby making every non vote a vote for the union. The nats will never be able to get 50% + of the electorate to vote for Indy.
Thanks to Boris and the Tories winning and pushing on with Brexit on January 31, 2020; thanks to that, the mood for independence is growing in Scotland
Do the Welsh think the EU cares one whit about the poverty in Wales?
Given that Wales receives about £254 million more annually from the EU than Welsh citizens contribute to EU funds (about £680 million p.a. gross), and has received £4 billion in EU ‘structural’ funding since 2000, apparently they do.
New EU funding to tackle in-work povertyIt's from the British welsh government site
Nearly £2 million of EU funding has been announced by the Welsh Government to tackle in-work poverty and some of the challenges faced by lower-skilled workers in south east Wales.
17 April 2019
The Skills@Work scheme, which will support around 1,400 people over the next 4 years, has been awarded £1.94 million EU funds and will be led by Newport City Council. Both employed and self-employed workers will be included in the programme, which will also benefit people in Cardiff and Monmouthshire.
The scheme will offer a range of community-based learning opportunities, including literacy, numeracy, ICT and other skills, focusing on helping learners gain qualifications from Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW) entry level 1 to level 2, improving their job security and earning potential. Over 1,000 people helped by the scheme are expected to gain a qualification.
The scheme will help people improve their prospects as well as promote entrepreneurship and self-employment to allow people to move out of in-work poverty and progress in the labour market.
Counsel General and Brexit Minister Jeremy Miles said:Sadly, around one in 10 people in work in the UK are in in-work poverty. Part-time jobs, low rates of hourly pay and a lack of career progression all take their toll. Were determined to do all we can to address this, and I am confident collaborative efforts like this being led by Newport City Council, and made possible with EU funds, can help us achieve our ambitions.Alongside formal qualifications there will be help with wider work-relevant skills such as customer service, team working, communication and problem solving, and career progression skills such as CV writing, application forms and interview techniques. Personal barriers will also be addressed through support for confidence, motivation, self-esteem and to tackle work-specific barriers that may be restricting an individuals employability.
In the last decade, EU-funded projects have created 47,000 new jobs and 13,000 new businesses across Wales, while also helping more than 85,000 people into employment.
Does Wales have the ability in resources, education, and most of all cultural tradition to become anything more than a dependency of the EU state?
Ireland has worked to become a tech hub with twice the population of Wales. Can the Welsh achieve this likewise with a smaller population and less educational achievement?
I don’t know enough about Wales to give you a complete answer.
The EU technically doesn’t have any dependency states - not even Bulgaria. They won’t take a failed state.
Wales does have the ability in cultural tradition and education to be a full member of the British union or the European union.
But it does not want to leave England today - and if it ever does, that will be 5 + years in the future.
Wales can be like Ireland — Estonia is less than HALF the population of Wales (1.3 million to the Welsh 3 million) and punches above its weight ($26 billion) while Welsh GDP is $80 billion.
So Estonia’s GDP/capita is $20K and Wales’ is $26K
England’s GDP per capita is much higher at $41K
Ha Ha Ha Ha. The chance of this happening are about the same as Labours and the Lib Dems chances in the last election
They lost the argument last time on economic grounds. Once brexit happens, the economic argument is exponentially weaker. Unlike the UK with the EU, Scoyland is a net recipient of uk spending, and Scottish independence only made sense at all on the basis of Englanf being in the same single market and customs union, and being outside schengen. The EU doesn’t accept new members who wont agree to join Schengen. Basically, independence would now be a much more radical and uncertain prospect than Scottish voters are likely to tolerate, given that they rejected it last time.
In any case, its irrelevant. Boris is telling Sturgeon to get stuffed on the grounds that she already had her “once in a generation” vote. She can come back in 20 years, although by then she will probably have long ago resigned in disgrace following the revelations to come with her predecessors rape trial and what she knew and covered up.
They lost it on economic grounds. Yet as the Brexit debate shows, that’s not the only place to win.
Scotland being a net recipient is not completely true - it is now, but wasn’t earlier and the amounts are far less
Scotlands total public sector revenue was just under £54 billion in 2015/16. Thats around 8% of the total revenue in the UK.
In the same year the total public expenditure in Scotland was £69 billion. Thats around 9% of all public spending in the UK that year, so a greater proportion than the population.
So it looks like the UK gives £15 billion to Scotland - but that number includes the amounts spent on the Trident program which would then move south and on country-wide projects like the high speed rail program.
Overall it looks like the UK may give Scotland either about the same as it gets from Scotland or up to around £5 billion per year thats about $6 billion per year. however the question is how much is defense and country-wide related and how much isn’t? And it would be difficult to separate that out
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