DAVID Cameron has signaled that he will not back down on a major constitutional fight with Labour as he vowed to introduce English votes for English laws on the back of handing more powers to Holyrood.
The Prime Minister opened off his last conference speech before next year’s general election by talking of his “pride” in still being Prime Minister of all the UK following a No vote in the independence referendum last month.
he used the image of the D-Day veterans being hailed by the French last June as a reason why Britain should remain together.
Telling conference that he had tears in eyes as he accompanied a 91-year-old veteran from his own constituency - Patrick Churchill - he remembered French children waving Union Jacks and cheering on the side of the road.
He said: “When people have seen our flag - in some of the most desperate tiomes in history - they have known what it stands for - freedom, justice, standing up for what is right.”
Admitting that the final days of the referendum campaign were “the most nerve wracking week of my life” he said he was “right to not duck the fight” warning that if he had “our union could have been taken apart bit by bit”.
He said: “This party has always confronted the big issues for the sake of our country and now England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland we are one people in one Union and everyone here can be proud of that.”
Ruth Davidson hailed
He hailed Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, who accompanied his wife Samantha in to hear the speech, saying: “During that campaign a new star - a new Conservative star - was born.”
He said that she is “someone who is going to take our message to very corner of Scotland.”
But with the Tories wanting to devolve all of income tax against fierce opposition from Labour, Mr Cameron also made it clear he will not back down on another major dividing line on English votes for English laws.
He said: “During the referendum campaign we made a vow to the Scottish people that they will get more powers - and we will keep that vow.
“But here’s my vow to the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I know the system is unfair.
“I know that you are asking: ‘If Scotland can vote separately on things like tax and spending why can’t England, Wales and Northern Ireland do the same?’ I know you want this answered.”
To loud cheers from the conference hall, he added: “So this is my new vow: English votes for English laws - the Conservatives will deliver it.”
But SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson claimed that Mr Cameron is backtracking on his promise to devolve more powers to Holyrood.
He said: “The ‘vow’ the Westminster party leaders made to the people of Scotland in the run up to the referendum was to deliver substantial new powers for the Scottish Parliament – no ifs, no buts – and it had nothing to do with English votes for English laws. David Cameron’s barefaced attempts to backtrack by linking the two will not wash.
“Mr Cameron has previously said that ‘all the options of devolution’ are on the table following a No vote – in contrast to Ruth Davidson’s attempts to dictate terms to the Smith Commission by saying devo max was a ‘non-starter’. He and the other Westminster leaders now have a duty to ensure that the substantial powers promised to Scotland are delivered. The people of Scotland will accept nothing less.”