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Independence referendum would only be held if Plaid won majority, says Drakeford

Mark Drakeford appears in front of a European flag. Photograph: CPMR/Flickr. - Credit: Archant

Welsh Labour would not support holding a referendum on Welsh independence unless Plaid Cymru won a majority in the Senedd, leader Mark Drakeford has said.

Plaid is committed to holding a referendum by 2026 if the party forms the next government in Cardiff Bay.

But Drakeford, the Welsh Labour leader and current first minister, said Plaid could not expect to hold that referendum if it does not win a majority of Senedd seats on May 6.

“I’ve always believed that if a party won an election in Wales with a referendum on independence in its manifesto then it would’ve won the right to hold such a referendum,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“But if a party puts that proposition and doesn’t win a majority it couldn’t expect that that then would be implemented.”

Asked what he would do if Plaid asked for that commitment as a price of supporting Labour in the next government, he said: “I think that’s a very long way off and will not be the preoccupation of this election.”

Drakeford was speaking ahead of Welsh Labour’s election manifesto launch, in which the party is committing to train 12,000 staff to work in the NHS if it forms the next Welsh government.

Among the other pledges are a new medical school in North Wales and improved pay for social care staff.

Welsh Labour said it will also retain the NHS bursary scheme, which offers grants to people training to be nurses or allied health professionals.

Drakeford, the current first minister, said the manifesto contains six pledges for Wales:

– The recovery after Covid-19 will focus on schools and the NHS.

– A guarantee that every young person under the age of 25 will be offered a job or a place in education, training or help to start their own business.

– Care workers will be paid the real living wage.

– More single-use plastics will be abolished, and a National Forest for Wales will be created.

– A Welsh Labour government will pay for 100 extra police community support officers.

– 20,000 new low-carbon social homes for rent will be built.

Drakeford said: “This election is a choice. It is about trust and ambition. A choice to go on investing in our young people with a Welsh Labour government or to take a different path.

“Today we launch a manifesto that sets out Welsh Labour’s plan to go on investing in the future. A plan to help us not only recover from Covid, but to do something more – to build the Wales of tomorrow.

“A manifesto to move wales forward. A manifesto that can and will only be realised if you vote Welsh Labour on May 6.”