Sir Keir Starmer branded 'naive' over Labour plan to save the Union

by 24britishtvDec. 6, 2022, midnight 19
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Labour have been branded “naive” after revealing controversial plans for sweeping changes to devolution in Scotland.



Sir Keir Starmer launched his party's Constitutional Commission on the UK's Future on Monday, which includes abolishing the House of Lords and plans for a legal duty for the Scottish and UK governments to work together.



The commission, headed by ex-PM Gordon Brown, also advocates for greater fiscal powers for the Scottish Parliament around borrowing and control of the Job Centre network.

READ MORE: Sir Keir Starmer says Scotland better off as part of UK in huge blow to Nicola Sturgeon's Scexit plan

It's 155-page report also recommends giving MSPs the same rights as MPs in Westminster around privilege allowing them to avoid legal concerns when raising issues in the Holyrood chamber.Under Labour's plans, the Scottish first minister would also be part of a new Council of the UK chaired by the prime minister and attended by all the devolved government first ministers.



In addition, Scotland would be part of a Council of nations and regions to focus on issues around economic development across the UK.

Scottish ministers also would be given powers to sign international agreements, join bodies such as the Erasmus student exchange scheme and the Nordic Council and be given representation “by right” on UK national bodies such as the Bank of England and energy regulator Ofgem. The paper further pledges to bring in more directly elected mayors with the Scottish Parliament given the power to bring them in for cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow.



In a speech in Leeds on Monday, the UK Labour Leader claimed the Conservatives had “promised a stronger Union but cannot work with or for Scotland”. Responding, the Scottish Tories claimed Labour were trying to “meet Nicola Sturgeon half way on the question of independence."

In his speech, Sir Keir also said: “During the Brexit referendum I argued for remain. But I couldn’t disagree with the basic case that lots of leave voters made to me. They wanted more control over their lives, more control over their country. They wanted to create opportunities for the next generation - build communities they felt proud of, have public services they could rely on.

“And I know that in the Scottish referendum in 2014, many of those who voted ‘yes’ did so for similar reasons. The same frustrations at a Westminster system that seems remote.The same yearning for the chance to build a fairer future for themselves and their families.”

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the commission's findings were a response to the desire for change expressed by voters who supported Scottish independence.

He said: “Just as in 2016 a lot of people voted for Brexit because they thought that was their only chance of change, in 2014 a lot of people voted for independence because they thought that was the only change on offer.



"We are changing that entirely today. We are breaking new ground.The ground on which the battle is fought in Scotland is changing forever because what we are saying is we are offering change within the UK that will benefit Scotland, as against change by leaving the UK, which we think will do damage to Scotland.

"That's going to be the debate from now on in - not independence versus the status quo, but change within Britain versus change by leaving Britain."

Mr Brown also dismissed Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to use the next general election as a “de facto” referendum on independence.

This means the SNP will campaign on the single issue of independence with the hope of gaining more than 50 per cent of the popular vote in Scotland, something they have never achieved.



He said: “When you come to the next general election, it may be that the SNP will have a one line manifesto and want a one issue general election but I tell you this, we have done a huge amount of research on Scottish public opinion.

“People want a better health service immediately, people want living standards improved immediately, people want jobs for young people immediately, people want better housing immediately and people of course want change in the way we are suggesting immediately and that’s going to be the issues on which we fight. We are offering a plan for economic, social, political and constitutional reform, not a one issue election.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy MSP said: "The SNP will never be appeased by more devolved powers – nothing short of independence will ever satisfy them and it’s naïve to think otherwise. Scotland already has one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world, and the SNP – at the same time as agitating for more powers – choose not to use many of those already at their disposal, most notably in welfare.

“The SNP Government have no interest in making the current set-up work. Nationalists have a vested interest in devolution failing, to push their case for independence.

"The present settlement strikes a good balance, and people in Scotland want their two governments to work together, especially when there are much more pressing issues to be focusing on, such as the global cost-of-living crisis and our struggling public services.



“While Labour try to meet Nicola Sturgeon half way on the question of independence, only the Scottish Conservatives are standing up to the SNP and building a real alternative, focused on people’s real priorities.”



SNP deputy leader Keith Brown, added: “After bigging up this report for months and months, this is yet another underwhelming constitutional reform plan from the Labour Party full of vague platitudes, empty promises, and what feels like the 10,000th time they have committed to reform the House of Lords.



“The fact is, Labour are now a pro-Brexit party with a pro-Brexit leader. They are completely at one with the Tories when it comes to ignoring Scotland’s vote to remain in the European Union, and ignoring the democratic will of the people of Scotland to determine their own future – and nothing in these proposals changes that. Through independence, Scotland can build a genuine partnership of equals with other nations across these islands … allowing us to escape the failing Brexit-based UK economic model and build a fairer, more prosperous and sustainable Scotland.”
• None Nicola Sturgeon accused of double breach of ministerial code over ferry fiasco evidence
• None Fury erupts as SNP government 'quietly extend' deal to house Ukrainians on cruise ship
• None Peers call for spending watchdog to slam lid on Nicola Sturgeon's £20m Scexit war chest
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