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Report dubbing Welsh independence ‘viable’ is hugely concerning – Davies

A report commissioned by the Welsh Government which describes independence for Wales as “viable” has been branded “hugely concerning” by the Welsh Secretary.

David TC Davies told the Commons the Labour-run Government should focus on the “real priorities” of people in Wales.

Another Conservative MP, Marco Longhi, said any further exploration of independence “must be immediately ruled out” by the Welsh Government.

Elsewhere in the session, Mr Davies appeared to get his geography wrong when he described Wrexham as being in South Wales.

The Independent Commission On the Constitutional Future Of Wales report published in January concluded that independence would be “viable” but “the most uncertain option”, with enhancing devolution and a federal system also considered.

Speaking during Wales questions, the Secretary of State said: “The, I’m afraid, not very independent commission was set up by Welsh Labour ministers, it reports to Welsh Labour ministers, but it was paid for by Welsh taxpayers.

“And the report they came out with was entirely in line with all the predictions which I made – more constitutional navel-gazing, more calls for more powers, and nothing at all to address the problems that have been inflicted on Wales by the Welsh Labour Government.

“I completely agree with (Mr Longhi) – it is hugely concerning that the Welsh Labour Government were even willing to consider independence for Wales with this commission.

“What they should be doing is to sort out the longest NHS waiting lists in the United Kingdom, they should do something about the fact we have the lowest educational standards in the United Kingdom.

Conservative MP Marco Longhi
Conservative MP Marco Longhi (Richard Townshend/PA Images)

“We have in Wales some of the highest business rates in the United Kingdom, and as a result of the last legislation we have some of the slowest speed limits in the United Kingdom.”

“It’s time the Welsh Labour Government addressed the real priorities of the people in Wales with the powers they already have.”

This came in response to Mr Longhi, who said: “It is deeply concerning that a so-called independent commission described Welsh independence as viable, despite the fact that the vast majority of people in Wales support remaining part of the union.

“Of course there is a difference between something that might be viable and something that is best.”

The MP for Dudley North said independence for Wales would be “highly damaging to the Welsh economy and public services”, adding: “Any further exploration of this idea must be immediately ruled out by the Labour Welsh Government.”

Mr Davies appeared to say Wrexham is in South Wales while responding to a question on ambulance wait times from Conservative MP Sarah Atherton.

In response to the MP for Wrexham, Mr Davies said: “(Sarah Atherton) is right to raise her concerns about the level of healthcare being provided to her constituents in South Wales.”