21 December 2020 | UK NEWS
The Leader of the Opposition has set out a plan for a new level of devolution.
Sir Keir Starmer made the announcement in a speech today, in which he set out a plan for a new form of devolution, which he described as the “boldest devolution project in a generation”. The speech was delivered remotely due to the ongoing pandemic situation.
The plan is billed as a “positive alternative” to the current devolution situation, but is intended to “preserve and renew the United Kingdom”.
Starmer also argued that the coronavirus pandemic has intensified the case for further decentralisation.
Part of the plan will involve the creation of a Constitutional Commission. This will help create a “fresh and tangible offer” for the devolved nations. The Commission will be headed by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Starmer said in his speech: “It is Labour’s duty to offer a positive alternative to the Scottish people. To show that you don’t have to choose between a broken status quo and the uncertainty and divisiveness of separatism.
“Boris Johnson isn’t Britain, just as Nicola Sturgeon isn’t Scotland.
“The United Kingdom is much more than that, more than any individual. It has been before – and can be again – a great force for social justice, for security and for solidarity.”
The SNP’s Deputy Westminster Leader, Kirsten Oswald, rejected Labour’s plans, saying: “No amount of constitutional tinkering of the kind proposed by Labour will protect Scotland from Brexit or the Tory power grab being imposed upon us against our will.”
She added: “It’s clear that only with the full powers of independence will we be able to properly protect our interests and secure our place in Europe – and that decision lies solely with the people of Scotland, not an out-of-touch Westminster system.”
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross also rejected the plans. He said: “This isn’t leadership from Labour on the union, this is the same old tired argument that they’ve made before and they’re offering nothing to challenge the SNP.
“Scottish Labour won’t work with unionist parties to stop the nationalists, and they won’t stand up to Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for another independence referendum as early as next year.
“Only the Scottish Conservatives have the strength to take on the SNP right across Scotland and the determination to stop their push for IndyRef2 again.”