One nation, not four – Stephen Bailey

Written by Stephen Bailey

We all live in a country called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom is a unitary (single) country and ultimate legislative sovereignty (the ability to enact laws across the UK) resides solely with Westminster (with ultimate political sovereignty, the ability to decide who governs the UK, remaining with the electorate across the UK).

Here is the evidence of this:

The above is a fact of history and constitutional law, irrespective of devolution (as set out in this previous article)

The proponents, defenders, and supporters of legislative devolution (which includes the supposedly ‘one nation’ Conservative and Unionist Party) don’t appear to understand this. They have thoroughly embraced and promoted very strong legislative devolution. ALL the mainstream UK political parties have embraced legislative devolution. As a consequence of legislative devolution the SNP, especially, Plaid Cymru and IRA/Sinn Fein plus the SDLP as well, have had their ability to pursue independence greatly enchanted and so have utilized their devolved legislatures as a platform to do just that. The result has been a constitutional crisis that is a very clear and present danger to the existence of the Union. It has created a situation in which the UK has become a waring, squabbling hotchpotch of four separate, increasingly fractious, squabbling statelets, the UK Government, and devolved Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s no longer a single country. The UK is increasingly drifting apart under the devolution ‘settlement’. Legislative devolution hasn’t appeased anti-UK nationalism (and certainly hasn’t ‘killed it off, stone dead’ as New Labour suggested it would 28 years ago at the beginning of this process).

The folly of this ‘four nations in a loose constitutional alliance’ approach was thoroughly highlighted by the recent Covid-19 pandemic, with Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP always wanting to be different from the rest of the UK irrespective of the merits of such an approach. This contrarian approach to drawing up policy for Scottish matters is a hallmark of SNP administration at Holyrood since they took over from Labour as the ruling party in 2007.

Continuing down this path has manifestly been shown to be inimical to maintaining the Union. So why are the Government and all the so-called ‘mainstream Unionist’ parties so thoroughly committed to continuing and even expanding the devolved remit of the devolved legislatures? It’s clear that the devolution process will lead to the eventual break up of the UK.

It can’t realistically be claimed that it is desired to genuinely want to maintain the Union and countenance the process that greatly quickens the break up of the Union, legislative devolution. Continuing down the path of legislative devolution isn’t a tenable way to secure the UK’s continued existence into the future.

The only viable way to do this is to promote a one nation (unitary) approach. One nation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with a legislatively sovereign national Parliament at Westminster. A Union with four members, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with pooled and shared resources for the benefit of all. One nation held together by a mutually beneficial Union is the best way forward for the UK.

NB: The article does not represent the views of Scotland Matters.

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