Wales leader says United Kingdom 'is over'

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford says the United Kingdom could break up.
Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford says the United Kingdom could break up.

The United Kingdom "is over" and a new union should be crafted to reflect a "voluntary association of four nations," Wales' First Minister says.

Mark Drakeford warned the break-up of the UK was possible if politicians only offered a "tweaking of the status quo" and said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's lack of engagement with the devolved areas undermined efforts to keep them together.

Drakeford's virtual appearance at the Welsh Affairs Committee on Thursday was broadcast from an outbuilding at the bottom of his garden in Cardiff, where he was said to be self-isolating "as a precaution" after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.

Drakeford told MPs a new devolution settlement was needed after the pandemic had caused a rise in polarised opinions about Wales' future, including support for Welsh independence as well as for abolishing devolution.

"What we have to do - to quote a Conservative member of the Senedd, David Melding - is we have to recognise that the union, as it is, is over. We have to create a new union," he said.

"We have to demonstrate to people how we can recraft the UK in a way that recognises it as a voluntary association of four nations in which we choose to pool our sovereignty for common purposes and for common benefits."

Drakeford said the "relatively random basis" on which the UK government engages with the devolved Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland administrations "is not a satisfactory basis to sustain the future of the United Kingdom".

Australian Associated Press