A federal future?

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Professor Linda Colley (your report, 9 October) has identified the missing element in the referendum debate and arguably the means to its resolution, namely the need to consider seriously the constitutional position of the whole of Britain.

She is surely correct when she advocates a federal arrangement – separate parliaments for all the member countries of the UK. Such parliaments would have full and identical domestic powers with a federal parliament, as Prof Colley suggests, controlling only defence, foreign affairs and whatever is agreed to constitute the macro-economy. A common objection to this is the much greater size of England, but disparities in size exist in the federated United States and the larger English state will be free to establish its own internal devolution.

Polling has apparently revealed that many Scots do not understand where Westminster ends and Holyrood begins, and there is the unfinished business of the West Lothian Question. A clear federal structure would be understood, not only by all citizens of the UK, but also by the world in general. It would make it so much easier for the English and many abroad to understand that England and Britain are not the same thing. There would no longer be a West Lothian Question.

Of course, at federal level, England could outvote all the rest and have its way on Trident and European Union membership and other issues generally – but could find it difficult to ignore the views of federal partners. Many Scots will support separation because devo-max is neither clearly defined nor available. Federalism is a devo-max that would be worth having.



Beauly, Inverness-shire