Welsh Labour leader Mark Drakeford has hinted he would be happy to form a coalition following the Senedd elections, despite Plaid Cymru insisting it expects “surging” support for independence.
Despite being seen as Labour’s most likely coalition party, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price refused to be drawn on future compromises, claiming instead he expected a “historic result” for his party.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Drakeford accepted his party was likely to lose ground, saying it would be a “fantastic result” if it could repeat the 2016 performance where it secured 29 seats.
Mr Drakeford accused the Welsh Conservatives of wanting to hand Wales back to Westminster, and Plaid Cymru of wanting to “sever” it from “our friends or relations or fellow workers elsewhere in the UK”.
“It is only the Labour Party that believes in a strong Wales, in a successful United Kingdom,” he said.
But he said he wanted to see a “progressive” approach to governing if the party was forced to choose a coalition partner.
Mr Drakeford said: “We’ve always worked across party lines, where other progressive parties can agree on a programme for government.
“That’s always been the way I approach it, I’m not interested at all in political fixes – if we need to work with other parties, let’s see if we can have a progressive programme for a progressive nation.”
“Support for independence in Wales now is higher than it was in Scotland 10 years ago and, of course, a few years later they came within 5% of winning an independence referendum.”
He added: “Politics is all about momentum and the momentum is with the independence movement.”
When asked about the possibility of entering a coalition, he said: “We are not prepared to concede any other possibility than surging support – not just for the independence movement but for Plaid Cymru.
“If young people, in particular, are supporting independence and Plaid Cymru in unprecedented numbers, if they turn out to vote, then I think that we are… looking at the possibility of a historic result for Plaid Cymru and for Wales in this election.”
Mr Price added: “That’s the prize I’m keeping my eye on, that prize, every bit of my energy is focused on that.”
He denied that independence would mean either cuts or tax increases, claiming the tax base would grow once Wales’ economy was severed from the influence of the UK Government.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he claimed most of Westminster’s infrastructure spending was focused on one corner of the UK.
When pressed on Government figures showing the UK Government spent £12,800 per person in England in 2018, compared to £14,000 in Wales, he said: “We are not asking for charity.”
Mr Price said: “What Wales requires is to put us on a different economic trajectory rather than accepting a situation where almost one in three of our children are living in poverty in the 21st century.
“That is the bitter legacy from the Westminster Government which has never invested sufficiently in our communities.”
Mr Price continued: “We are not asking for charity, we are asking for a fair share of investment in infrastructure.
“Most of the infrastructure investment has been concentrated in the already affluent south-east corner – is it any wonder, therefore, we are not able to realise our potential in this unequal United Kingdom?”
Mr Price refused to name the party’s price for entering into coalition.
“We have been absolutely clear Wales needs to be put on a different path,” he said.
He added: “We have had 22 years of a Labour-led administration and, sadly, particularly on the economy, we haven’t seen the progress that we need in our communities.
“We will only get that if we embrace political change that will then unlock the social and economic change we require.”