In July 2020, the Senedd (the Welsh Parliament) debated a series of motions on Wales’ constitutional future. Gareth Evans considers the implications of these for the UK Constitutional Law Association’s blog.
On 15 July 2020, Plaid Cymru tabled a motion in the Senedd calling on the Welsh Government to seek authority from Westminster to hold a binding Welsh independence referendum during the next Senedd term. This original motion was defeated by a margin of 35. A Labour amendment to the motion then successfully passed, committing Wales to “continuing membership of a reformed United Kingdom”. Evans states that although the original motion was defeated, its tabling “marks an important milestone in the evolution of the debate on Wales’ constitutional future”.
Evans argues that the political debate in Wales is “evolving to include independence as a serious alternative to the constitutional status quo”. While acknowledging that support for Welsh independence remains a minority position, Evans cites a recent Welsh Political Barometer poll for ITV-Cymru Wales and Cardiff University that showed an increase in “persuadable” voters on the matter of Welsh independence, known as “indy-curious” voters.
The article provides a brief history of the movement around Welsh independence, a term only formally adopted by Plaid Cymru in 2001. It then examines the possible constitutional path to independence, highlighting that any lawful independent status would have to be approved by Westminster under the Government of Wales Act 2006.
Read the full article: Gareth Evans, ‘Debating Welsh independence: the political and constitutional pathways to a referendum’, UK Constitutional Law Association Blog, 29 July 2020.
A Centralised State?
Writing for LSE’s British Politics and Policy blog, Joseph Ward argues that power has been markedly centralised in the British state over the period 2016–2019, not least with regard to the implementation of Brexit. In particular, Ward points to the makeup of Cabinet committees, departmental structures and budgets, and resourcing levels and staff numbers in the civil service, all of which he contends display evidence of this centralisation.
As examples, Ward points to the number of Cabinet committees chaired by Theresa May during her time as Prime Minister compared to her predecessor, David Cameron. He also points to an increase in recruitment in the civil service, focused particularly on departments dealing with Brexit. Ward also uses the current Government’s management of the chairmanship of the Intelligence and Security Committee as more evidence of the centralisation of power.
The article concludes by predicting that the perceived centralisation of power will continue. Ward states that this could lead to political challenges in future, as “the diminished role of arms-length organisations [makes] it more difficult to off-hand the blame when things go wrong”.
Read the full article: Joseph Ward, ‘The British state and the recentralisation of power: from Brexit to Covid-19’, LSE British Politics and Policy, 25 August 2020.