Putting the rUK’s interests first
The Lords Constitution Committee was in the news yesterday because they made some proposals concerning the aftermath of a Yes vote.
Most of the headlines were caused by some comments that I didn’t find particularly interesting, but Baroness Jay of Paddington, chairman of the committee, also said this:
We urge the UK Government to put the rest of the UK’s interests first in the event of independence negotiations.
This is a rather interesting statement. After all, the UK Government will still be the government for all of the UK between a Yes vote and Scottish independence day, and indeed it will still contain Scottish government ministers and be served partly by Scottish civil servants. Nevertheless, the noble Lords will want this UK government to function as the rUK government for the purpose of negotiations.
I really can’t see how this would work. They would either have to purge the UK Government of all Scots immediately (but I’m not sure how they could legally do that), or they would live in fear that Scottish moles (mowdiwarps?) would leak parts of the negotiation mandate to the Scottish negotiation team.
Surely the only solution will be to create an rUK negotiation team to match its Scottish counterpart, rather than using the UK government for a purpose for which it isn’t suited.
I cannot see how the Westminster government can conduct the negotiations while it’s still Scotland’s government, too. Only after Scotland’s independence day will the rUK government be able to conduct the remaining negotiations on its own.
Baroness Jay added:
The Prime Minister should feel under no obligation to conclude negotiations by March 2016. The Scottish Government’s proposed timetable has no legal or constitutional standing.
As I’ve argued before, I’m not sure it makes any sense for the negotiations to be dragged out. Does anybody really think that the UK can be governed as if nothing had happened between a Yes vote and independence day?
For instance, what happens if the Westminster government wants to do something that Scotland is 100% against (the Bedroom Tax and the privatisation of the Royal Mail are obvious examples from the recent past)? Will they go ahead and tell Scotland to reverse the decision afterwards? That wouldn’t be acceptable to Scotland after a Yes vote, so in practice a legislative moratorium will be put in place, meaning that only uncontroversial legislation can be passed, and I cannot imagine Westminster would put up with that for very long.
So although I agree with the noble Lords that the Scottish Government’s proposed independence date is only a proposal, my guess is that once the Westminster politicians get their heads round these issues, they’ll actually want Scottish independence to happen sooner than March 2016, not later.
29 thoughts on “Putting the rUK’s interests first”
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It’s going to be very hard to actually govern the UK in any meaningful sense between Hannah’s 15th birthday and the day independence kicks in. I think there would need to be an immediate dissolution of Parliament in the event of a Yes vote, with an election 6 weeks later. Any new cabinet should be formed without any MPs from Scottish constituencies. The negotiating team should be cross-party and tasked with finding win-win solutions on issues such as currency and the status of financial institutions such as Scottish Widows.
I agree that actual independence should be sooner rather than later after the referendum.
Also, regarding Baroness Jay: she is the daughter of the weakest and most disastrous PM since WW2 and she has never been elected to a political position in her life and sits in Parliament entirely because of her political connections. Time for an elected upper house.
Why should there be an immediate dissolution of Parliament? Why couldn’t a cross-party negotiation team be formed without an additional election?
So that in the intervening period, the new parliament and government have clear legitimacy to govern the whole UK.
Surely it has that already.
It loses its mandate in May 2015 though, and I don’t agree in principle with the idea of postponing that election.
Ah, I get your point. You want an election because you think the negotiations will last longer than six months, but you don’t want an election during them. That would make sense. However, I’m worried that it would be a terrible background for a constructive election campaign.
Yes, those are my reasons. It would make for a very interesting election campaign but I think it’s only right that there is a new government in place for the express purpose of governing during a very unusual period.
You know I’m doubtful that the UK can be governed very well during this time, and most (all?) previous cases have negotiated independence have seen a negotiation period of less than six months, so I think it’d be better to start to negotiate asap and aim to finish before April 2015. Of course there would only be time to deal with the big things (citizenship, borders and such things) — many things would have to be negotiated post independence, in bilateral talks between two sovereign states.
It would be good to get it over and done with in the space of six months but I do wonder though whether the current parliament actually has an electoral mandate for overseeing the negotiation. It wasn’t in any manifesto in 2010. I still think there should be a general election fought on the basis of ‘independence policies’.
But what it be flexible enough? Wouldn’t it easily lead to a complete deadlock in the negotiations because the rUK parties then can’t compromise but have to do exactly what they promised in those independence negotiation manifestos?
They would be elected on the broad principles of approach but would have flexibility within that. With something this important, it seems to me to be essential to have an electoral mandate to proceed.
The current parliament would be oppositional and confrontational, don’t you think?
As for the electoral mandate, all governments have the mandate to deal with unforeseen situations. I’m just really worried that the kind of independence negotiation manifestos that would be written a few months after a Yes vote would be vindictive (e.g., “this party believes Scotland shouldn’t be allowed the use of the Pound Sterling for one single day after independence”) and leave the negotiation team with absolutely no ability to compromise.
I disagree. Ukip’s maybe, but I think the other parties are more mature than that.
One might hope, but don’t you agree there’s a risk?
There is a risk but then on the other hand, don’t you think the English electorate have the right to have the issues that effect them put to them?
I’m not sure an election manifesto written before the negotiations have really started is the best way to ask questions of the electorate.
@devomatters I enjoyed your Guardian article about indy happening before May 2015. I’ve blogged about this before, eg http://t.co/LH3cMDicyo
RT @arcofprosperity: @devomatters I enjoyed your Guardian article about indy happening before May 2015. I’ve blogged about this before, eg …
Putting the rUK’s interests first | Arc of Prosperity http://t.co/ESiS3AiOYE
@iainmacwhirter @devomatters I’ve blogged about this often (eg http://t.co/4gnpNJWVoE – http://t.co/LH3cMDicyo – http://t.co/1u3GJ7HQm0) 1/2
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