The Welsh Government has set up a new body to examine the future relationship of the nation with the rest of the UK. As part of its investigation, it will look into the case for breaking away from the Union.
The Commission will look at the current devolution system and whether it is working for the people of Wales.
Welsh Labour promised to set up the independent body during the Senedd parliament election earlier this year.
The decision to probe the question of independence has angered Welsh Conservatives, who accused Mark Drakeford’s Government of “sleepwalking” towards the break up of the UK.
James Evans, Senedd Member for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: “Now is the time to be focusing on pandemic recovery, economic growth and job creation and supporting our public services.
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“This is a dangerous distraction tactic from Welsh Labour.
“From the rolling green hills of the Brecon Beacons to the stunning highlands of Scotland, right down to the tranquil Cornish coast, our beautiful Island, with our shared cultural and identity will provide more opportunities for current and future generations, who are blessed enough to be born of these Isles.”
He added: “Now the message could not be more clear; vote Welsh Labour, get independence.”
Academic Professor Laura McAllister and the ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will lead the new Independent Constitutional Commission.
Prof McAllister said “everything is on the table” and “it would be ludicrous to remove any options at this stage”.
She added: “Serious contributions to our constitutional debate are greatly needed and I’m looking forward to our work contributing to filling that space.
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“We’ll think boldly and radically about all potential options for the future of Wales, in the context of the increasing pressure on the Union.”
Rowan Williams said the Commission wanted to make sure the “governance of Wales is effective, accountable and imaginative, and look forward to hearing what hopes and visions are animating people around the country”.
Plaid Cymru, the Welsh nationalist party, praise the Commission as a chance to make their case for independence.
“A Constitutional Commission is an opportunity to hold the most wide-ranging national conversation about Wales’s future in the history of devolution,” said Rhys ab Owen, the party’s constitution spokesman.
“Plaid Cymru looks forward to engaging constructively with the Commission and its work, making use of every opportunity it presents to make the case for independence and that our nation’s interests will be best served when decisions over Wales’s future are placed in Wales’s hands.”
An interim report is expected to be published by the end of 2022 with a full report by 2023.
Mr Drakeford has pushed for “far-reaching federalism” in the UK.
He says said the current system needs to be modernised if the Union is to survive.