THE BLOG
23/06/2019 09:58 BST | Updated 23/06/2019 09:58 BST

The Tory Leadership Race Is The Best Advert For Welsh Independence

A no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for Wales, but both Johnson and Hunt would prioritise keeping their party together over keeping the Union together, Plaid Cymru's Adam Price writes

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As 160,000 Conservative party members prepare to choose the UK’s next prime minister, the rest of us can but despair at the bleak future both candidates represent.

Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt know that a no-deal exit from the EU would be a disaster for Wales – for our farmers, our manufacturers, and our communities – and would risk thousands of jobs.

And yet both men have said that they would be prepared to countenance such an exit.

They are driven not by what they believe to be right, but by what political position will endear them the most to Tory members in order to become prime minister.

Let us be in no doubt that they are both prepared to put thousands of Welsh jobs on the line in order to win the top job.

Just this week, the governor of the Bank of England reiterated that a no deal Brexit would necessitate trade tariffs – something Dame Carolyn Fairbairn of the CBI warned earlier this year would be like a ‘sledgehammer’ to the economy.

Indeed, Dame Carolyn warned in January that a no deal Brexit would lead to an 8% decline in GDP, putting thousands of jobs across Wales at risk.

What we’ve heard thus far from Messrs Johnson and Hunt has told us that they simply do not care. We are all just collateral damage in their quest to reach Number 10.

While their bare-faced recklessness might help them win the votes of their fellow Tories, it is also an advert for Welsh independence.

There is an irony in the fact that their efforts to keep the Conservative and Unionist Party together will undoubtedly lead to the end of the United Kingdom.

That is because their interests, and the interests of their party, run counter to the interests of the people of these nations.

I am certain that Scotland won’t stick around and hope for the best out of a no deal Brexit. It also appears increasingly possible that a referendum on Irish unity would lead be successful.

Here in Wales, thousands and thousands of people are coming to conclusion that this United Kingdom just don’t work for us – and independence is the only alternative.

Even the former first minister, Carwyn Jones, said this week that Westminster’s chaos is fuelling curiosity about independence, acknowledging that there had been a change in the national ‘mood’.

Since our inception, Plaid Cymru has believed that Wales is not, nor has it ever been, well served by the United Kingdom. The Welsh national interest simply doesn’t figure in the corridors of Westminster.

The last three years have shown that clearly, with the Westminster establishment falling over itself to deliver a Brexit that would be a catastrophe for Wales.

Our nation has been side-lined, shut out, and ignored, because what matters to Westminster is their own interests – not ours.

And now here we are, just weeks away from a new prime minister moving into Number 10, and a no deal Brexit looks perhaps more likely than ever.

Whichever of the two candidates wins, Wales inevitably loses.

As a nation, we are at a crossroads.

Down one road, we face being taken out of the European Union with no deal. We put the very existence of our agriculture industry in danger. We risk our manufacturing sector. We put thousands of Welsh jobs, and the future of our communities, on the line.

When Scotland inevitably votes for independence, and the Irish inevitably vote for unity, Wales faces being left in a rump UK state, overshadowed and overpowered by a Westminster government of whichever colour which couldn’t care less about us.

Down the other road, we can reject this bleak version of the future, and insist that the poverty of our nation is not inevitable. We can claim for ourselves a prosperous European future, where our nation steps out of from under Westminster’s overbearing shadow and stands on its own two feet.

We can proclaim to ourselves and to the world that we matter. Our jobs matter. Our communities matter. Our existence as a nation matters.

And as we send that message to ourselves and to people all around the world, we send it too to Messrs Johnson and Hunt.

No matter which of two of them wins the Tory leadership race and becomes the next prime minister, their determination to deliver Brexit come hell or high water is the best advert for Welsh independence.

They should be careful what they wish for.

Adam Price is leader of Plaid Cymru