The United Kingdom ‘is over’ and a new union should be formed to reflect a ‘voluntary association of four nations’, the Welsh First Minister has said.

Mark Drakeford claimed there is no ‘institutional architecture’ for Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain united.

Wales’ First Minister also blamed Boris Johnson’s ‘lack of engagement with devolved nations’ for undermining efforts to keep them together, describing the Prime Minister as ‘remote’.

He believes the break-up of Britain is a very real possibility if politicians do not make major changes and simply ‘tweak the status quo’.

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He told MPs how a new devolution settlement was needed amid polarised views about Wales’ future and calls for independence in the wake of the pandemic.

‘I do think the effect of the pandemic and the last 12 months has been to polarise opinion in Wales about the way it should be governed,’ he said.

‘What we have to do – to quote a Conservative member of the Senedd, David Melding – is we have to recognise that the union as it is, is over. We have to create a new union.

‘We have to demonstrate to people how we can recraft the UK in a way that recognises it as a voluntary association of four nations, in which we choose to pool our sovereignty for common purposes and for common benefits.’

Mr Drakeford also took a swipe at the UK government for the ‘relatively random’ way it engages with devolved administrations.

The Welsh leader added: ‘There is no institutional architecture to make the United Kingdom work.

‘It is all ad-hoc, random, and made up as we go along. And I’m afraid that really is not a satisfactory basis to sustain the future of the UK.

‘If I have an anxiety about the lack of regular engagement between the Prime Minister and other parts of the UK, it is more that I think without that then the security of the future of the UK becomes more difficult.

‘Without the Prime Minster playing his part in all of that, I think it undermines the efforts of those of us – and I include myself certainly in this – who want to craft a successful future for the UK.’

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Mr Drakeford also criticised the PM for failing to call a meeting between him and other first ministers.

‘In that sense I would say I’ve had a very modest level of contact with the Prime Minister. And the remoteness isn’t just in that way, I’m afraid we rarely have a meeting of minds.’

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has vowed to hold a Welsh independence referendum if the party unseats the current Labour government and wins the Senedd parliament election, the same date of the Scottish parliamentary election.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – currently facing a vote of no confidence over the Alex Salmond inquiry – warned she will push forward with a new independence referendum if she wins key elections this year – whether or not Westminster grants her permission.

It comes as Boris Johnson’s newly-appointed chief adviser on keeping the United Kingdom together quit less than two weeks into the job after claiming his position was made ‘untenable’ by Downing Street colleagues.

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