How’s this for weird? Gordon Brown now backs Home Rule for Scotland…
Using terms like “co-decision making,” and suggesting Scotland could unilaterally sign up to international agreements on those policy areas the Edinburgh Parliament controlled, Mr Brown spoke of a more federal structure to the UK while recognising the benefits of pooling and sharing resources while part of the Union.
He also noted how even leading Nationalists had to accept in light of the Brexit vote that “independence is far more difficult in 2016 or 2017 than it was in 2014” and that, were it to happen post the UK leaving the EU, then a hard border between Scotland and England might have to be erected.
Crucially, the former PM argued that the case should now be examined for “clarifying the division of powers; stating that certain specific powers should be reserved to the UK Parliament such as on currency, defence and security and pensions and that all others are powers available to the Scottish Parliament”.
In 2014 in the final days of the independence referendum campaign, Mr Brown led the Unionist case for The Vow, pledging more powers, primarily on tax, for the Scottish Parliament. At the time, the former MP for Kirkcaldy insisted what was being proposed was “nothing less than a modern form of Scottish Home Rule”.
Divergence in UK political culture is now a real thing. So is the hole in Scotland’s public finances. Whilst the Brexit vote is not binding, either in terms of the whole UK or its parts, it would be as foolish of Westminster to ignore the internal divergence within the UK as it would the overall verdict.
Interesting because it works with the popular grain of loosening ties. Although without an imposition of internal sovereignty (ie, solid guarantees against the arbitrary power of the UK PM), it’s unclear how such an arrangement would fulfil demands for power and genuine autonomy.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty