Pro-independence Labour candidates standing in the Welsh Parliament election should focus on Wales’s coronavirus recovery instead of calling for the country to exit the UK, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The Labour leader was making his first campaign visit to Wales on Thursday ahead of the May 6 election, joining First Minister Mark Drakeford at a sustainable housing project in Gower, South Wales.
Asked whether he was comfortable with pro-independence candidates being allowed to stand for the party, Sir Keir said: “I want to see a strong Wales in a fair United Kingdom. I think at the moment the absolute focus in politics has to be on the recovery.
“That’s why it’s core to to what Welsh Labour are saying going into this election.
“I know people will have different views on independence. But I think most people would say that coming out of this pandemic the simple and core focus should be on the recovery.”
He denied he could be a “liability” to Welsh Labour’s election campaign, with Mr Drakeford receiving better approval ratings in recent polling than those for Sir Keir by UK voters.
Sir Keir said Mr Drakeford was held in “high regard” by the Welsh public for the way he had guided Wales through the pandemic, and also said he had no concerns that the Welsh Conservatives may steal unionist voters from Labour by having a stronger unionist message.
Welsh Labour has three pro-independence candidates standing for the election, but Mr Drakeford has ruled out an independence referendum as part of any coalition deal between his party and Plaid Cymru if Labour fails to secure a majority.