Or at least that’s what Peter Hain says.
Let’s examine the contention carefully. He’s actually claiming that we have more influence (whatever that means) on international affairs as a small component of a much larger state, than we would have as a state in our own right.
The Republic of Ireland is roughly similar to Wales in terms of population & size (they have a population of roughly 4,000,000 – we have a population of roughly 3,000,000). The external body that’s most important to them & us is the European Parliament. We have 4 MEPs, they have 13. They have a seat on the Council of Ministers, we don’t. They get to chair the EC (and thus set the agenda) when their turn comes round, we don’t.
If we take a wider perspective the story’s pretty much the same. They have a seat in the UN, we don’t. They’ll get a seat on the Security Council when their turn comes round, we won’t. If they think that some country or other is worth influencing they’re free to open an embassy with full diplomatic status there. We can’t.
It’s difficult to know exactly what Hain is saying. I suppose that what he really means is that the UK has more influence internationally than Ireland. This is probably true, but that influence doesn’t often help us. Although Wales has never come close to voting Tory since the commencement of universal suffrage, we usually end up with Tory governments. So the normal state of affairs is that we have little influence on the international policies of our own government.
And of course there’s the fact that the UK has historically been more likely than virtually anyone else to wield it’s international influence by means of armed conflict. But that’s another story.