Our still United Kingdom

Bright Blue Scotland, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has today published new research, entitled Our still United Kingdom, proposing new constitutional arrangements for the UK after Brexit. The report, authored by Murdo Fraser MSP, argues that current constitutional arrangements – including Joint Ministerial Committees establishing 24 new post-Brexit Common Frameworks – are proving frustratingly inadequate. The report claims that if further constitutional reforms are not introduced, there is a risk of inflaming support for separatism in different parts of the United Kingdom. The report rejects moving the UK towards a federal system that is seen in Australia or Canada, but instead proposes a quasi-federal settlement for this country which could also finally solve the ‘West Lothian Question’ and reform the House of Lords.

The report makes four main proposals to achieve a new post-Brexit, quasi-federal UK: A new Statute or Charter of Union. This new Act of the UK Parliament would declare the creation of a quasi-federal state, and provide in law for the UK’s intergovernmental machinery. A new Senate representing different parts of the UK. The House of Lords as it currently exists should be abolished and replaced with a new Senate, or Upper House, representing different parts of the UK, predominantly if not entirely elected, and fulfilling the role both of a revising chamber and as a counterweight to the House of Commons. A new UK Council of Ministers. The establishment of UK Common Frameworks requires the replacement of the existing Joint Ministerial Committee system with a new UK Council of Ministers, representing component parts of the country. A new English Grand Committee. In the absence of significant further devolution or moves to federation within England, there is a need for England as a whole to be represented within the new UK Council of Ministers, with representatives elected by the English Grand Committee.

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