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Johnson is the Biggest Recruiting Agent for the Welsh Independence Movement Since Owain Glyndŵr

Jonathan Edwards: Welsh Government's communications a gift to those opposed to devolution

ACCORDING to reports this week, the UK Government has drawn up proposals that would see diplomats instructed to stop referring to the UK as a state of four nations.

Instead, they will be required to refer to it as ‘one country’, writes Jonathan Edwards MP.

That step reveals the next step in the British Government’s strategy of aggressive unionism.

Although that might seem to be, on the surface, a debate about terminology, it has, in fact, far-reaching consequences.

It is a further attempt to systematically create a homogenous British identity — an identity defined by the Conservative’s idea of English culture and Westminster supremacy.

In short, it is a return to ‘for Wales, see England’.

The purported move has invoked a strong reaction in Wales, with one public figure responding:

“This is what Putin is trying to do in the East. Stupidity, arrogance and good old fashioned British imperialism.

“These tactics are for dictators and ultimately doomed to failure.”

You would be forgiven for assuming that these must be the words of an individual who knows that the Union is fundamentally flawed, perhaps a member of Yes Cymru’s committee.

However, they are, in fact, the words of the Welsh Government’s Minister for the Constitution and Counsel General, Mick Antoniw MS.

Mr Antoniw is the closest thing Wales has to a Foreign Minister. However, his stance, as a committed pro-British unionist, makes his reaction so interesting to me.

He exemplifies the contradictory position in which so many unionists in Wales find themselves.

They are desperately struggling to maintain their self-made, make-believe world.

In that land of make-believe, the British State is some sort of partnership of equals.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the Conservative Government seek to undermine devolution at every turn.

In the real world, the consequences of the British Government’s agenda is felt in Wales through poor rail infrastructure, a welfare state failing to support the most vulnerable, and ever-increasing use of food banks.

The mythical version of the British State to which so many Labour politicians cling is crumbling under their feet. This has already resulted in Labour’s implosion in Scotland and in England.

With the forthcoming boundary changes likely to cement a 100 plus Tory majority in Westminster, there is no prospect of Labour winning enough seats to be in power at a UK level.

Labour in Wales, meanwhile, have adopted a ‘policy’ of Home Rule within the Union. But they fail to admit that this is can only be delivered with the consent of the British Government.

Realistically, it is implausible that a British Government will be willing to embrace the idea in the foreseeable future.

I do not deny that electorally their strategy has worked thus far.

Indeed, the rhetoric of Home Rule has been hugely successful in keeping their electoral coalition together.

Around half of Labour voters now support Welsh independence.

Data released this week indicates that half of all Welsh independence supporters voted for Labour, a unionist party committed to the British State, in May’s Senedd elections.

Yet, I do not see that this position will be tenable in the long run.

The future political battle lines in Welsh politics are increasingly solidifying around the national question.

The UK Prime Minister is playing a key role in this change, with his brand of aggressive unionism and his dismal handling of the Covid pandemic turning him into the biggest recruiting agent for Yes Cymru since Owain Glyndŵr.

It is also inevitable that events in Scotland will have implications for Wales.

When Scotland votes Yes next time, and independence increasingly becomes the main political dividing line in Wales, how long can Labour really keep its coalition together?

At some stage, Labour will have to choose. Westminster or Wales.