Griff Rhys Jones’ cutting dig at SNP: ‘Welsh too sensible to push for independence’

YesCymru in 'quagmire' over Welsh independence says politician

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The Welsh actor and presenter, 68, is known for a variety of comedy roles in a career spanning nearly 50 years. He made a name for himself on the BBC’s ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News’, alongside the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Mel Smith and Pamela Stephenson. Griff later teamed up with Mel again for long-running sketch series ‘Alas Smith & Jones’, also broadcast on the BBC.

Tonight, he is back on TV for his four-part documentary, ‘Griff’s Great New Zealand Adventure’.

In the programme, the star travels across New Zealand using roads off the beaten track, rather than the main motorway, State Highway 1.

Cardiff-born Griff has also presented several travel programmes for the BBC in his native Wales.

From Anglesey to the Brecon Beacons, Griff, who has spent a large part of his life in England, has spoken about the joys of rediscovering his homeland.

However, his love of Wales does not mean he supports Welsh independence, as he explained in an unearthed interview.

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Speaking in a BBC ‘Daily Politics’ debate in 2014, the actor said the Welsh people were “too sensible” to try and pursue independence from the UK like Scotland.

Host Jo Coburn asked Griff why the Welsh public did not appear to have the same appetite for independence as many in Scotland do.

He said: “I think that possibly Welsh people are too sensible.

“There’s a sense in which, if you turn independence movements into a sort of reverse racism, then we have a problem. 

“What’s important about any independence is a pride in what is achievable, and what has been achieved.

“Not a sense of we’re being hard done by, which is one of the one of the primary factors that drives these strong independence movements.”

The interview was filmed in the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum in which Scots voted against separating from the UK.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged earlier this year that her SNP Government will hold a new referendum – ‘Indyref2’ – by the end of 2023, the COVID-19 situation permitting.

Griff explained that he was running two businesses in Wales, asserting that the country is a place where companies can thrive.

However, the actor also appeared to warn the Welsh independence movement over the country’s economy if it broke away from the UK.

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He said: “What’s important for Wales is to be aware that, just like any other country, it has priorities about its economy and about its organisation.”

The actor was also asked by Ms Coburn if he thought the priorities in Wales at the time were the right ones.

He replied: “I think that it’s always the wrong thing to stand back and say, ‘We’re fine. Don’t pick on us because we’re Welsh’.

“There’s a sense in which, actually, we ought to be trying to achieve better standards.

“I would hope that that will be something that is an important thing.”

He claimed that there is a tendency in Wales for people to think of the country as a “subject nation” or a “repressed place”, which he said was “very negative” and not useful.

‘Griff’s Great New Zealand Adventure’ airs on ITV tonight from 8pm – 8:30pm.
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