Wales politics

Guto Bebb 'despondent' after Scotland visit

Guto Bebb

A Wales Office minister has described Scotland as "another country" after a recent trip to Edinburgh.

Aberconwy MP Guto Bebb said he had left feeling "despondent" because it reminded him of Dublin.

That "should be a warning when visiting a city which is a crucial part of the UK", he said.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she will seek a second referendum on independence.

Mr Bebb, a Conservative party whip, was in the Scottish capital for a British and Irish council meeting.

The meeting brought together the devolved governments from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as the UK and Irish governments.

Writing in the North Wales Weekly News, Mr Bebb said: "We have a huge amount in common with citizens of the Irish Republic, as we do Scotland," including similar television programmes, popular music and "in many ways a shared literature".

But he said "read their papers, listen to talk shows and watch the news and it's clearly another country".

Image copyright Ian Georgeson

Mr Bebb said leaving Edinburgh made him feel the same way as he does when leaving Dublin.

"For me Dublin is somewhere which is recognisable but very different."

"That is fine in the context of the capital of an independent country but it should be a warning when visiting a city which is a crucial part of the UK.

He added: "The sense of nationhood in Edinburgh is palpable. For a long time it has been satisfied within the UK.

"Is that changing though? My gut feeling is yes and that should be a cause for regret to all of us."

Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns was challenged about his minister's comments on ITV's Peston on Sunday Programme.

He described them as "speculation in order to develop the debate so that everyone in every part of the UK recognizes that we achieve more together".

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