A senior Welsh Tory has admitted that Scottish independence is as good as inevitable unless the Conservative and Labour parties both join together and agree a new Act of Union.
The Welsh Assembly Deputy Presiding Officer David Melding said a new Union is required which would create a “British federation” and offer an alternative to the vision of independence put forward by SNP leader Alex Salmond.
Writing on the Wales Home website, Mr Melding says: “Today despair has replaced complacency in some unionist quarters and the power of initiative seems to rest securely with the SNP,”
“Many unionists consider steady progress to neo-independence intractable.
“If timing is all, the worst fears of unionists centre on a referendum in the autumn of 2015 after the re-election of the Coalition (or even a Conservative victory outright) but with little Scottish support. The British state, which pessimists think started to unravel in 1999, would not even have made it to 2020!”
Mr Melding cited the Irish example from last century and stressed that Unionists had to work fast if history wasn’t to be repeated, adding:
“By the time that a consensus was finally forged in Britain, Ireland had moved well down the road to independence. It is distinctly likely that history will repeat itself unless bold action is taken quickly.
“We need a British policy to save the Union, not a Conservative or Labour one. It is time for a formal recognition of the sovereignty inherent in Britain’s Home Nations.
“This could be stated in a new Act of Union. It would be easy because the right to national self-determination within the UK is already tacitly accepted by all the main political actors.
“And crucial because it would establish multi-national Britain as a federal state.”
The calls from the Welsh Assembly Member have highlighted the growing divisions between Unionists across the UK to the planned referendum on Scottish independence.
Recent claims by Downing Street that David Cameron would lead the anti-independence camp led to bickering between Scottish Labour politicians over the role the Tory PM would play.
The comments also highlighted a growing split between the London based coalition government and Labour’s Welsh administration.
A Whitehall source said: “[Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan] has rightly identified that the threat to the future of the union comes not just from the SNP’s plans for a referendum on Scottish independence.
“Labour’s deliberate attempt to drive a wedge between the UK and Welsh governments is also leading to a casual drift towards isolationism which could weaken the strong, historic ties between Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom.”
Meanwhile, a row has erupted after Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg claimed that Scots who supported independence were “extremists”.
Speaking during a visit to Scotland Mr Clegg, who also denied he was a Unionist, said: “All the evidence suggests that is the mainstream of opinion and the extremists are those who either think that we need to yank Scotland out of the United Kingdom tomorrow, or those who say there should be no further change at all,”
The SNP called on the Lib Dem leader to re-think his language and accused him of “spending too much time with the Tories”. The Nationalists highlighted Mr Clegg’s disastrous AV referendum and the tuition fees U-turn by senior Lib Dem politicians.
SNP MSP James Dornan said:
“The anti-independence parties don’t know if they are coming or going. One minute they are defending the Union the next they are in despair and pretending they don’t support the Union at all.
“The problem for the anti-independence parties is that they do not know what they stand for. People across Scotland have a very clear vision of a country with the powers to grow its own economy, tackle social inequalities and bring an end to nuclear weapons in Scotland. The anti- independence parties are far behind that vision.
“And with Nick Clegg calling on UK politicians to take a back seat, David Cameron insisting on joining the debate and Labour torn between attacking the Tory government or forming a coalition with it, this latest intervention will simply cause more problems.”