Plaid calls for referendum to scrap Prince of Wales
Aug 8 2006
Tomos Livingstone, Western Mail
WALES should have its own Foreign Secretary and the title Prince of Wales should be scrapped, Plaid Cymru said yesterday.
Speaking at a meeting at the National Eisteddfod in Swansea, Plaid MP Adam Price said a Welsh Foreign Secretary would give Wales a higher profile within the EU. He said Wales was currently being "ignored" on international issues.
Mr Price, who has led the campaign to impeach the Prime Minister over the Iraq war, also called for a referendum on scrapping the title Prince of Wales.
"The existing Prince of Wales should be the last, and I am sure that the majority of the people of Wales would vote in favour of looking forward confidently," he said.
Foreign affairs are dealt with centrally at Westminster, with the Assembly and the Scottish Executive having little or no power to intervene.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan and his ministers have been reluctant to be drawn into debates on foreign affairs, with Mr Morgan's refusal to be drawn on his views on the Iraq war being the most notable example.
The current Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett is on a caravaning holiday as the UN continues its efforts to broker a peace deal in the Middle East.
Mr Price said, "Under Blair's Government, Wales no longer has a voice when it comes to international issues, and we are increasingly ignored.
"The JMC (Joint Ministerial Council) has not met for a plenary session, chaired by the Prime Minister, since October 2002.
"This has nearly been four years and, although it clearly breaks the regulations set out in the memorandum of understanding - that plenary meetings of the JMC are to be held at least once a year - New Labour obviously does not care," he added.
"Blair has also failed to attend a British-Irish Council since 2003. For the past few years all his efforts have been focused on foreign issues, as he has increasingly become less of a Prime Minister and more of a deputy to Condo- leezza Rice."
He said Wales could work on foreign affairs "in negotiation with Westminster".
The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP added, "Being an associate member of the Common- wealth, as Quebec is a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, would give us our deserved international status.
"We should have the same status as Hong Kong and Macao within the United Nations, and benefit out of the UN's international relations."
The idea of a referendum on the future role of the monarchy in Wales is also likely to raise eyebrows.
Plaid has always had a strong republican tradition, with South Wales Central AM Leanne Wood famously asked to leave the Assembly Chamber in 2004 for referring to the Queen as "Mrs Windsor".
She was asked to leave by the Presiding Officer, Plaid's Lord Elis-Thomas, who is seen to have strengthened the Assembly's - if not his party's - links to the monarchy.
Mr Price said, "Next year it will be 700 years since Edward I created the title of the Prince of Wales. It has long been a symbol of conquer and subjection to the English throne.
"Such exciting times for Welsh life and politics, as we are growing as a self-ruling democracy, must not be burdened by such historic humiliation, and I propose that we have a referendum to scrap the title."
A spokesman for Welsh Labour said, "Welsh Labour has spent the week of the Eisteddfod talking to people about issues of crucial importance to Wales over the coming years and decades such as global warming, the global economy and the position of trade unions.
"This latest Plaid outburst goes to show they are still a party on the fringes of Welsh politics, determined to drag Wales out of the United Kingdom."
Nick Bourne, leader of the Tories in the Assembly, said, "It is little wonder Plaid Cymru has lost votes by the thousand in recent years, when its senior representatives come out with ridiculous ideas like this.
"Comments like this expose Plaid Cymru for what they really are - insular, short-sighted and anti-British."
A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said, "The First Minister leads for the Welsh Assembly Government on external relations, in terms of relationships with home nations and overseas.
"This underlines how important external relations is to the Welsh Assembly Government."