THERE are “significant problems” with the way Wales is currently governed within the Union of the UK and independence is a “viable” option, a landmark report has found.

The independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, currently exploring the future of the devolved nation, released its interim report into its work and the paths ahead.

Plaid Cymru welcomed the report, which touted independence as one of the three key options ahead for Wales, adding that the significance of this should “not be understated”.

Co-chaired by Professor Laura McAllister and Rev Dr Rowan Williams, the 11-member group was brought together by the Welsh government in October 2021 but works independently of it.

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The report concluded there were three feasible alternative constitutional routes for Wales; a strengthened devolution settlement, a federal approach with equality between the UK’s four nations, or independence, where Wales would become a sovereign country.

The commission argued that the current devolution settlement for Wales has an “imbalance of power” for its citizens in their ability to influence issues that affect them.

Citing the “persistent weakness” of the Welsh economy relative to the UK, co-chair Williams said there is a “structural problem” that needs to be addressed.

He explained: “It tells us that the Welsh economy isn’t doing well under the status quo.

The National: Dr Rowan Williams, left, and Professor Laura McAllister, co-chair the independent commissionDr Rowan Williams, left, and Professor Laura McAllister, co-chair the independent commission (Image: Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales)

“But what, if any, constitutional options would enable Wales to become more prosperous and improve the lives of people in Wales? This is something we have to continue to explore.”

The report also raised the lack of a written UK constitution takes for granted the “sovereignty” of Westminster, stating it adds “significant constraints” to the people of Wales and their elected representatives in determining how they should be governed.

McAllister, the commission co-chair, said the Union has been allowed to function “without fixed checks and balances on power”.

She added: “This has never been more evident than in the last three years with a UK Government that has a large majority and has been less willing to share power with other institutions.

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“Our exploratory work over the last year has given us a sharp reminder that the lack of written constitution does not guarantee stability for Wales nor good governance.

“More than ever, it is clear that the challenges with the way Wales is governed can only be addressed by acknowledging the inter-dependence with wider constitutional issues in the UK.

“We’re very realistic that two of three constitutional routes we’ve outlined in this report are only achievable with a written constitution.”

The commission also held an online consultation and gathered more than 2000 responses from citizens' on their perspectives of how Wales is currently run.

The most popular constitutional preference from respondents was independence, favoured by 55% (1096) of those taking part.

The National: Adam Price welcomed the landmark report and said the party will publish its submission in fullAdam Price welcomed the landmark report and said the party will publish its submission in full (Image: PA)

While the commission acknowledged the significance of this, they noted that independence groups had been encouraging supporters to respond, and encouraged more people in Wales to engage with them.

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said the report backed the party’s argument the status quo isn’t working for Wales.

He said: “This landmark report is the first government report to acknowledge that independence for Wales is both a credible and viable way forward for the constitutional future of Wales.

“The significance of this cannot be overstated.

“Not only does it reaffirm Plaid Cymru’s argument that the status quo simply isn’t working for Wales but makes clear that we are trapped within a UK economy that is overwhelmingly shaped in the interests of the South-East of England and the City of London and that this broken UK economic model does not deliver prosperity to Wales and offers no prospect of doing so.”

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Price added that the current devolution settlement in the UK is “unsustainable”, said federalism is a “dead-end” and he believes independence is the only way forward for Welsh communities.

The party will publish its evidence to the commission in full on Wednesday, setting out its proposals for a sovereign Senedd and an “interim step” towards independence, a Free Association of Wales.

Price added: “We want to achieve independence as soon as we can. However, we acknowledge that independence will not happen overnight. As with our experience of winning the referenda to establish and strengthen our Senedd, we will build the road to independence with the political resources to hand, be they building-blocks, stepping-stones or bridges.”

The UK Government has been contacted for comment.