THE Labour First Minister of Wales has said it is for the people of Scotland to decide if they want an independence referendum.

Mark Drakeford told Sky News that no government or party should stand in the way of a new vote.

He said: “I am very clear that if a population in Scotland, or indeed in Wales, wanted to hold a referendum, it is for the people of Wales and the people of Scotland to make that decision. And then that decision must be respected,”

This, he added, should include his colleagues in the Labour Party outside of Wales.

“No Labour leader should argue that the component parts of the United Kingdom can be prevented from navigating a future for themselves.”

However, his party colleague Richard Leonard was less strident.

He told the broadcaster there were no plans for a referendum. Asked to rule it out completely, he said: “I’m saying that we will be going into the elections for the Scottish Parliament next year on a manifesto platform saying we do not support a second independence referendum, and so we will seek to get a mandate from the people for that position.”

During the Sky News package on the state of the Union, Drakeford was asked if he could ever see Wales voting for independence.

He said: “If the United Kingdom were to fracture then everybody will have to think about the way in what remains can go on working for everybody.”

The Welsh leader said those who support the union needed to make a practical case.

“I’ve never been much attracted to, sort of, ‘Rule Britannia’ British value sentimental argument to the United Kingdom unless you can make it work practically and demonstrate to people it makes a difference in their lives in the case has diminished, but I think you can make that practical case.”

Tory Welsh Secretary Simon Hart suggested rising support for independence was because the First Ministers of Wales and Scotland had been playing politics.

“The idea that Wales or Scotland or NI or England may do things differently because they can,” he said.

“I think that is quite frustrating if you happen to be a business, charity, family, or individual, which may particularly in Wales’ case, have significant cross-border interests.

“If you’re struggling to run a business and you may be in one of the border counties when you rely very heavily on cross-border activity, that can be intensely frustrating and give rise to people thinking that this is about politics. It’s not about Covid or economy.”

Earlier this week a poll revealed that more than half of all voters in Wales who backed Labour at the 2019 General Election would now back Welsh independence if a referendum was held.

The YouGov survey, commissioned by YesCymru, showed that 51% of respondents who voted for Labour said they would vote for Welsh independence with 49% against.

The polling also showed that the majority in Wales believed the power to call a referendum on Welsh independence should lie with the Senedd rather than Westminster.

With those who didn’t know removed, 55% of respondents backed the Senedd having such powers with 45% against.

Despite, the rise in support from Labour voters, the overall number in favour of independence has stayed the same, with 32% in favour and 68% against.

Though among the younger generation, there is rising support, with 43% of those in the 18-24 year old category backing independence, and 42% of those in the 25-49 year old category saying that they would vote yes.

Labour for an Independent Wales told Nation.Cymru: “In 2017, support for independence within Welsh Labour supporters was only at around 20% but now it is a majority at 51%,” they said.

“This is the first poll to show such a majority but we do not expect it to be the last. The current actions of the Executive in Westminster are troubling and all serious democrats, socialists, and fair-minded people should be looking at independence with fresh eyes.”