Wales to get own currency for under radical new plan | Politics | News

Wales could explore the prospect of creating its own currency in the future, has been told.

It comes as an independent commission into the country’s constitutional future found that independence is a “viable” option.

The appetite for leaving the union among the population is extremely low, however.

The latest data show that just 22 percent of people want independence, compared with a staggering 56 percent who do not.

This hasn’t stopped Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth from setting out his party’s plans for an independent Wales, one of the most radical being the creation and introduction of an entirely new currency.

The three possible future scenarios for Wales all warned of economic stress in one form or another. Only independence, it said, might free the country to pursue financial gain. In the short to medium term, however, this would seriously hurt the country.

“We would work through this period using the economic levers at our disposal,” Mr ap Iorwerth said. “For me, the best way to do this would be to have our own currency. We wouldn’t have to, we could choose to keep the pound, but there are all sorts of options to take to mitigate those challenges of becoming an independent country.”

Wales hasn’t had a native currency for hundreds of years. Its monetary system was only unified with the creation of the Welsh Pound in the 16th century, and even that was based on its neighbour’s money. It was replaced by the English Pound in 1707 and was later swapped for the Pound Sterling in 1801.

Unlike Scotland, Wales has neither a central bank nor treasury, both vital cogs in the creation and maintenance of a national currency.

Mr ap Iorwerth said: “If we have our own treasury in the future, we’d have the option of having our own bank [which would then] give us the option of making decisions about currency.”

While he said it “wouldn’t be up to me to decide which one would be best”, he added: “I think having our own currency would be the best. It would give us more flexibility in growing the economy, in creating jobs, and in tackling poverty.”

While Britain’s banknotes are printed at the Bank of England’s printing works in Debden, Essex, the Royal Mint is based in Llantrisant, South Wales, and is renowned for its historical craftsmanship and world-beating quality.

Plaid Cymru has long called for Wales to have its own sterling notes as Scotland and Northern Ireland do. Jonathan Edwards, Plaid MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, previously said Wales would have more of an equal footing in the union if it was able to have its own currency.

With a view to independence, Mr ap Iorwerth noted that countries creating new currency in the aftermath of the fall of a union or empire is no new thing.

However, for most, the gamble poses too much risk for too little reward. Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said independence and so the creation of a currency “wasn’t a viable option”.

He said: “The report clearly says there are economic consequences (of independence). Why would you want to take a course of action that will be economically damaging? It’s viable for me on a cold day to go and jump into Cardiff Bay, but you wouldn’t want to do that because it’s cold and you might die of hypothermia.

“So, why on earth would you want to go down the route of independence and break up the UK which is the most successful union the world has seen?”

“We are stronger a part of that union by being a key member of it rather than taking this course of action that the nationalists get excited about when navel-gazing reports like this one are published.”

The notion of creating a new currency on the British Isles has been floated in Scotland, though banking experts have warned that any newly independent Scottish money would be worth significantly less than its Pound Sterling sister.

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