Plaid Cymru promises independence referendum within five years as it launches manifesto

  • Watch the report by ITV Wales' Political Correspondent Owain Phillips

Plaid Cymru has promised to hold an independence referendum in Wales within five years if it were to be in government following May's Senedd election.

In a manifesto the party described as "the most radically ambitious and transformational programme" offered in a Welsh election since 1945, it said Wales and Westminster were becoming "increasingly two different universes."

Other proposals include a "green deal" with the creation of up to 60,000 new jobs, a youth jobs guarantee for 16 to 24-year-olds and the provision of free childcare from 24 months.

The party's leader Adam Price said, "In this manifesto we pledge ourselves to building a nation that delivers the opportunity of a decent life and brighter future for all."For the first time in a Senedd election the people of Wales will be able to vote to take their own future into their own hands.

"We believe independence to be the only sure and sustainable means to achieving social and economic progress.

"So, a Plaid Cymru Government will empower the people of Wales to decide the future of our nation in an independence referendum.

"We are not the country that we should be. We are not the country that we can be. And we are not the country we want to be."

Senedd election: Who should I vote for?

Plaid Cymru also pledged to extend free school meals to all primary school pupils, cut the average council tax bill, recruit an extra 5,000 nurses and guarantee a £10 an hour minimum wage for care workers.

On the issue of climate change, the party laid out a pledge to generate 100% of Wales' electricity from renewables by 2035.

Questioned over the considerable costing for the party's childcare manifesto commitment, which Adam Price explained was around £400m, Plaid Cymru's leader said he felt early years intervention was an important investment.

"In terms of the policy as a whole, it builds on the existing investment that is there already.

"But of course it is one of the best investments that we can make, investing in early years education, because it delivers so much.

"It delivers in terms of the children's education. We know the evidence that is there that investing early...actually has an incredible impact on educational attainment."

Mr Price was also challenged on the feasibility of successfully keeping some of his party's pledges to their costing.

Citing an example from the current Welsh Government's challenge in keeping one of its childcare commitments to its budget, ITV Wales Political Correspondent Owain Phillips pressed Mr Price on how the party intended to stick to its own budget.

Mr Price said, "We've been very conservative in coming up with a costing figure which I think does reflect the need to invest in training up thousands and thousands of new childcare staff.

"It's the right thing to do. The most important thing we can do is invest in the young."

Mr Price was challenged over the costing for some of his party's manifesto commitments

Discussing Welsh independence, Mr Price said he felt the pandemic had fostered an appetite for Welsh separation from the UK.

He said: "It's no accident that we've seen this huge surge of support for independence over the last 12 months of this pandemic."