THE SNP leader at Westminster has presented a constitutional challenge to Richard Leonard.

It comes after the Labour first minister of Wales indicated his government could be open in the future to backing Welsh independence.

Ian Blackford highlighted comments yesterday by Mark Drakeford in Cardiff in which he suggested continuing support for the Union was conditional and could change if Scotland became independent or if Northern Ireland joined the Republic.

Blackford said: “Even Wales’s Labour first minister is coming to the realisation that the nations of the UK should be able to decide between independence and Boris Johnson’s Brexit Britain.

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“It begs the question – what will it take for Scottish Labour to finally come to this realisation, rather than just burying their heads in the sand during the most pressing constitutional crisis in recent times?

“Scotland’s future simply cannot be left for Westminster to decide and politicians at Westminster cannot ignore the democratic mandate for an independence referendum – as confirmed by a majority of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.”

While giving evidence at the Welsh Assembly’s external affairs committee, Drakeford was asked whether his support for the UK was “unconditional”. He replied he did not envisage any circumstances where it would be in Wales’s interests to leave the UK.

Pressed by Plaid Cymru AM Delyth Jewell, he said “any sensible political party or government would have to reassess Wales’s place”.

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Drakeford said: “If you believe the UK is a voluntary association of four nations you have to face the possibility that some component parts of the UK may no longer choose to be part of it. If that were to be the case in future then, of course, any sensible political party or government would have to reassess Wales’s place in the components that were there in the future.

“So in that sense it can’t possibly be unconditional because there are other moving parts here of which we are not in control.”

Responding, Jewell, the shadow international relations minister, said: “The significance of this development cannot be overstated – this is a monumental day in the history of the Welsh nation as a Labour first minister finally admits that independence has to be seriously considered as offering the best future for Wales.

“As the ongoing political crisis engulfing the UK shows no sign of abating, the only responsible course of action for Welsh government now is to urgently begin the work of scoping out how an independent Welsh state would function.

Jewell continued: “It would be interesting to learn whether the UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn agrees with the leader of Welsh Labour that Wales should consider independence if Scotland voted to leave the UK.

“Does Corbyn agree that Brexit UK is about to break up into its constituent nations, or are we witnessing a further dramatic escalation of the civil war aging within the party?”