Great Britain

Wales on the BRINK: Shock poll reveals SURGE in support for scrapping of Welsh Assembly

Professor Roger Awan-Scully of Cardiff University said if anti-devolution forces united, the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party (ATWAP) could win seats in Wales. It comes as a new poll suggests around 24 percent of people would vote to get rid of the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff.

In the 2016 election, ATWAP won more votes than the Liberal Democrats in two of the five regional lists.

In Wales, Assembly members are elected under two systems, with 40 constituency assembly members (AMs) elected via the first-past-the-post system used in Parliament.

Meanwhile, 20 regional AMs are chosen using a quote system to give a more proportional overall result.

Although ATWAP did not win any seas across Wales, the party managed to secure 4.5 percent of the regional list vote.

The Senedd is in picturesque Cardiff Bay and may one day be scrapped

The Senedd is in picturesque Cardiff Bay and may one day be scrapped (Image: GETTY)

David Bevan is the leader of the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party

David Bevan is the leader of the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party (Image: BBC)

This was considered fairly significant considering the party had limited resources and almost no media coverage.

Prof Awan-Scully, who also works at the Wales Governance Centre, said: "If forces that are broadly sceptical or hostile to devolution can organise around a single clear alternative, they will probably win some representation in the assembly.

"Although support for devolution in general has increased in the few years that followed devolution, there has remained this persistent body of opinion of people who when asked the question don't really like the idea of there being a devolved level of government in Wales."

According to the poll carried out by YouGov Welsh Barometer in January, when given a range of options on the future of devolution, more than half - 56 percent - of the population support the status quo.

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The Senedd features cutting-edge architecture having been built on the turn of the century in 2001

The Senedd features cutting-edge architecture having been built on the turn of the century in 2001 (Image: GETTY)

Simon Rees, press officer of the ATWAP, has started working for former UKIP, now independent AM, Gareth Bennett.

This has fuelled speculation Mr Bennett could eventually stand as a candidate for the party in 2021 - the next National Assembly vote.

Mr Rees said it is a decision “for the board” but he “sees no reason why Mr Bennett can't stand for the party".

The BBC said Mr Bennett did not comment on the matter.

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Mark Drakeford is the current First Minister of the devolved government, representing Labour

Mark Drakeford is the current First Minister of the devolved government, representing Labour (Image: GETTY)

The Senedd as seen from its flank

The Senedd as seen from its flank (Image: GETTY)

Mr Rees added: "If there was a referendum tomorrow, we'd lose.”

Yet, he said he hopes high profile candidates could give the party a platform to get more widespread support.

He said: "Devolution has been going on for 20 years and people don't feel that it's mattered, that it's helped people.”

There is a slight variation in support for abolishing the Assembly across Wales, according to the YouGov survey.

Prof Awan-Scull said voters far away from Cardiff could feel left out in light of the Brexit vote

Prof Awan-Scull said voters far away from Cardiff could feel left out in light of the Brexit vote (Image: Express Newsapers )

In South Wales Central, which includes Cardiff, it was 22 percent, compared to 27 percent in the North Wales region and in Mid and West Wales.

BBC Wales interviewed several locals in north Wales about their opinion on devolution.

In Mold, Flintshire, while many felt that Cardiff Bay was far away, not everyone thought the institution should be abolished.

Earlier this month, the Welsh Assembly announced it would spend a week in the summer of 2020 in northeast Wales in order to “engage” its work.

The Welsh Assembly's future is safe for now

The Welsh Assembly's future is safe for now (Image: GETTY)

Prof Awan-Scully said in light of the Brexit vote, with many further away from Cardiff feeling as though they have been left behind, voters could turn away from the middle ground to a more extreme position.

He said: "We're still some way from that in Wales in regards to devolution, but I suppose stranger things have happened.

"It could be that at some point we get to see more of a choice between the extreme alternatives of independence and getting rid of autonomy altogether."