Friday, 9 November 2012

Lecturing on the union

Wales’s First Minister warns English Tory MPs not to push for a referendum on leaving the European Union. Their concern with wanting out of the European Union might lead to the breakup of the other Union. The union that is the United Kingdom. 
Carwyn Jones delivered this stark message to the London School of Economics, on the eve of the Scottish government confirming the wording of the question it plans to put to the people of Scotland in the independence referendum.
The people of Scotland will be asked to vote "yes" or "no" to the question: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?" Of course, the Electoral Commission will have to give its blessing to the wording.
Carwyn Jones’s view is that if the English, with its large population, vote to leave the European Union and other parts of the UK, like Wales and Scotland, vote to stay in then according to him it puts “us under enormous strain, and could only serve the interests of those who wanted the United Kingdom to cease to exist.” 
In other words the very act of the Conservative Euro-sceptics in pushing for a referendum on leaving the EC is playing into the hands of the “Yes” side of the Scottish question. 
What’s more, it might even push Wales down a similar road.
For almost the last year, Carwyn Jones has been trying  to get the Cameron’s government to take seriously the need establish a convention to look at relationships between the countries of the isles of Britain.
Prime Minister Cameron hasn’t responded.
So Wales’s First Minister set out his stall at the LSE. His theme Wales’s place in the union.
He makes great play on changing the nature of the devolution settlement. He wants a new Act passed in Westminster giving Wales a reserved model of devolution. Meaning he wants Wales to be more like Scotland. 
All the powers over Hadrian’s Wall rest with the Scottish Parliament unless Westminster make an exception. He wants it to be the same for Wales. This would stop the Attorney General referring Welsh Laws to the Supreme Court to rule on their legality.
He’s seen some of the powers of patronage of the British Prime Minister, likes what he sees, and wants some of that for himself. 
So wants the power to nominate potential members to the House of Lords and for a Welsh Judge to sit on the Supreme Court.
He also wants some of the same powers that Scotland has over finance but not income tax unless of course there’s a referendum on the issue. He said
“Welsh voters would expect a say before they found themselves potentially paying a different rate of income tax than in other parts of the UK. In other words, there should be a referendum before this power could be transferred. 
So there we have it. Carwyn has set out his constitutional stall. More powers for the First Minister. But not to much over tax, ‘cos he wouldn’t want to have to raise the money that he spends. Oh, what a happy world that is.

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