Responding to Plaid Cymru's Independence Commission report which has been published today (Friday 25 September) Welsh Liberal Democrats have described the report as a mix of fanatical politics and pie in the sky economics.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said:
“Politics isn’t working for Wales or the UK as well as it could right now, I understand why independence looks attractive, but it isn’t the answer.
“There are far too many uncertainties, too many unknowns and too many risks with independence. We don’t know nor are Plaid proposing solutions to questions such as: What currency we would use? Would we still have access to the BBC? What would happen in towns and villages that straddle the border? Or whether English students will still be able to study in our universities?”
Opinion polling constantly shows the vast majority of Welsh voters are firmly against independence and time and time again that voters' concerns involve bread and butter issues like health, education and the economy.
Figures from Cardiff University show that Wales has an annual deficit of £13.7 billion which is over twice the entire budget of the Welsh NHS. On day one of independence using the most up to date figures available Wales’ debt as a percentage of GDP would be 88%, a figure which will grow over time if current spenidng is maintained. This is a figure calculated before considering the share of the UK’s debt that even Plaid Cymru admit Wales would be expected to shoulder and any of the recent extraordinary spending as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jane Dodds further said:
“Plaid Cymru needs to be honest with the public about these figures and come clean with either how much an independent Wales will be forced to borrow on the first day of independence or what public services might be dropped.”
“The current pandemic shows how much Wales benefits financially from being part of the UK, there is virtually no way that the current furlough scheme would have been financially possible for example.
“Wales absolutely can and should be doing better, but independence isn’t the only option and it certainly isn’t the right one.
A federal and equal United Kingdom
This weekend Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds will join colleagues from the rest of the UK at the party’s conference and call for a truly federal United Kingdom.
The process would start with a declaration of a federal United Kingdom. A citizens’ assembly would then help draw up a written constitution.
Under the motion The Senedd, the Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly would have their powers protected and could not be over-ruled by the Westminster government.
The governments would be required to co-operate to tackle big issues that affect the whole UK such as child poverty or the climate emergency.
Jane Dodds added:
“The idea to reform the UK to a federal nation similar to Canada and Germany is a constructive middle way between a centralising Westminster government and a dash for independence from the nationalists.
“It replaces division with the co-operation which is needed to heal the existing divisions and to build a better future for everyone.”
- The Cardiff University Government Expenditure and Revenue Wales report from 2019 shows that Wales had a £13.7b net fiscal deficit in 2017-18 (see page 4 - £40.8 billion in expenditure less £27.1 billion in revenue). In January 2020, a report from the same academic team at Cardiff University put Wales’ fiscal deficit at £13.5b in 2018-19 or £4,300 per head, compared with the UK average of £620 (see page 6).
- The Welsh Government budget for 2017-18 was £15.5 billion, of which £6.4billion was spent directly on the NHS (extrapolated from the £7.4billion budget allocated to Health, Wellbeing and Sport)
- Every opinion poll regarding Welsh Independence in a range of possible scenarios has resulted in the vast majority of respondents rejecting the possibility of independence.
- The full text of the Liberal Democrat Conference on federalism is available online here (pages 24-27) and it will be debated at 11:10 on Saturday 26 September 2020.