THE status quo of the Union is getting close to the point where it “simply can’t survive”, according to the co-chair of an independent commission set up to examine the future of Wales in the UK.

Laura McAllister, professor of public policy at Cardiff University, also highlighted how independence is one of the constitutional options being considered by the commission, with the support of “avowedly Unionist” Welsh Labour, which set up the body to fulfil a promise in its Senedd election manifesto.

Representatives from all four main political parties in Wales – including Plaid Cymru, the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats – are taking part “positively” in the Independent Constitutional Commission, she revealed.

The SNP said it highlighted how opponents of independence in Scotland are “running scared”, with their priority to “protect corrosive Westminster control”.

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Speaking last week at a conference organised by University College London’s Constitution Unit, McAllister was asked if the most likely outcome for the future of the Union would be a “muddling through” to maintain the status quo.

She highlighted the concept of the Union being “a voluntary conglomeration” of nations.

“If you draw the parallel with a failing partnership in one’s personal life, a marriage and so on, both partners don’t have to agree they want a divorce, it only has to be one,” she added.

“The problem at the moment is that if there is one partner in the arrangement who feels very strongly it isn’t working for them, then it derails and undermines the whole Union itself.”

McAllister said even if a second independence referendum was held in Scotland and the country voted to stay in the Union, it would not settle the issue and open up questions around federalism and confederalism.

She added: “Don’t forget there are a whole host of problems with federalism that we all know about – not least size and balance and appetite for regional devolution in England, and confederalism essentially requires independent nations to want to come together and pool parts of what they are responsible for.

“But I do think the status quo simply can’t survive and think we are getting close to that point now.”

McAllister said the remit for the commission – which is co-chaired by ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams – was to consider all constitutional options for Wales in the future, both within and outside the Union.

“I am not sure in any other part of the UK would you see an avowedly Unionist party like Labour supporting a terms of reference that allows an independent commission to consider clearly independence alongside federalism, confederalism, devo-max, extensions to devolution and so on,” she said.

“What’s also interesting is the membership of the commission – we have representatives of all four of the main political parties in Wales – Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, sitting alongside Labour and LibDems having an active and positive so far contribution to this important debate.”

SNP MSP Paul McLennan said it was of no surprise there is a “growing recognition in Wales that the UK is broken”.

He added: “What is surprising is the continued refusal of Scottish opposition parties to acknowledge the ongoing damage being inflicted on our country.

“Their twisted priority is to protect corrosive Westminster control rather than protect the people they are elected to represent.

“After a decade of Tory austerity, we are now suffering the catastrophic consequences of Brexit. Millions of people across Scotland are struggling to pay for their weekly shopping, terrified to open their energy bills and subject to state pensions which lag far behind those of many of our neighbours.

“Because of Westminster control, a country as resource rich as Scotland is lagging so far behind almost all of our European neighbours on a range of economic league tables.

“Opponents of independence are running scared because they have no answer to that question and are not even trying to address it.”

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HE added: “The people of Scotland have secured a cast-iron democratic mandate to decide their own future when they elected the biggest pro-independence majority of MSPs ever returned to Holyrood – and the Trump-like efforts of Douglas Ross, Anas Sarwar and others to deny that democratic reality are increasingly absurd.”

Sarah Sackman, public and environmental lawyer at Matrix Chambers, who spoke at the conference about the work of Labour’s constitutional commission headed by Gordon Brown, also said the status quo of the Union was “not sustainable”.

“We might muddle through for another few years, depending on the electoral landscape, but it is not sustainable,” she said.

However, Michael Keating, emeritus professor of politics at Aberdeen University, said he believed the most likely scenario was “continual blockage”. He argued there would not be a Scottish referendum or Irish unity referendum soon, but added the “issue is not going to go away either.”