Wales politics

Scottish independence: UK stronger together, says Jones

Welsh and Scotland flags

Carwyn Jones believes the UK nations are "stronger together than apart", a spokesman has said, as Scotland's first minister calls for a second referendum on independence.

Nicola Sturgeon said it was needed to protect Scottish interests over Brexit.

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood said a hard Brexit would prompt Welsh calls for "greater control of our own affairs".

Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies claimed Ms Sturgeon was putting her party's interests ahead of Scotland's.

In 2014, Scottish voters rejected independence by a 55% to 45% margin, but Ms Sturgeon said on Monday that the UK vote to leave the EU had changed the situation.

As a majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU, she said they should be offered the choice between the prospect of a hard Brexit - outside the single market - and independence.

Ms Sturgeon wanted to see such a poll take place between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Prime Minister Theresa May said a second independence referendum would set Scotland on course for "uncertainty and division" and insisted the majority of people in Scotland did not want another vote on the issue.

Image caption Carwyn Jones meeting Nicola Sturgeon at her offices in Edinburgh

A spokesman for Mr Jones said: "The constitutional future of Scotland is a matter for the people of Scotland.

"However the First Minister is clear that the four nations of the UK are stronger together than apart."

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the stakes for Wales "could not be any higher", as the prime minister prepares to trigger the Article 50 process for Brexit.

Her party has called for continued access to the single market.

"Any failure by the UK Government to recognise Scotland's interests could lead to the end of the UK as a state," Ms Wood said.

"In that situation, Wales would need to decide its own future."

Media captionLeanne Wood calls for national debate on Wales' future

She added: "Plaid Cymru believes that decisions about Wales are best made in Wales and the way in which this hard Brexit is being pursued highlights exactly why.

"If the UK Government's Brexit negotiation also leads to the Welsh national interest being overlooked, support will grow for greater control of our own affairs in Wales."

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "Despite her assertions that she is speaking in the interests of the Scottish public, Nicola Sturgeon is in reality speaking in the interests of the SNP.

"Like their fellow nationalists Plaid Cymru, the SNP only want one thing: independence.

"Everything they say or do is to that end - this despite the majority of people saying time and time again that they do not want a return to the brutal divisions of a referendum.

"It's time that the SNP put the national interest ahead of their own nationalist interest, and started delivering for the Scottish people."

However, UKIP's leader in the assembly Neil Hamilton said: "We welcome a referendum on Scottish independence.

"It is never wrong to consult the people. I give Nicola Sturgeon my wholehearted support in having another referendum in order to put this issue to bed once and for all.

"I also challenge Leanne Wood to call for a referendum on Welsh independence.

"This would show how little support Plaid Cymru have for their policy of being ruled from Brussels, and not by Cardiff/Westminster."

Analysis by Nick Servini, BBC Wales political editor

Get ready for the constitutional arguments to be dusted down as another attempt is set to be made to take Scotland into independence.

The concerns from many about the loss of influence for Wales if Scotland leaves the UK will not have disappeared but the context is now so different than in 2014.

The Brexit process will set the terms of the debate, and for the SNP government in Holyrood that is exactly the point.

While Plaid Cymru in Wales say Nicola Sturgeon's comments should spark a national debate about the country's future, opponents will say that debate was settled in the Brexit referendum when the Leave vote in Wales virtually mirrored that in England.

If we did not know before, the break-up of the UK is now firmly on the agenda as the Prime Minister prepares to trigger the official Brexit negotiations.

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