Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called for a new “home rule” deal for Scotland in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
The ex-Labour leader says that a federal set up must be adopted for Scotland in the UK - with a warning that the sweeping new tax and welfare powers coming to Holyrood after the independence referendum are now “out of date.”
This set-up could attract the support of 70-80 per cent of Scots and break the impasse between “sterile” unionism and “unreconstructed” nationalism, Mr Brown said during an address to the Edinburgh book festival.
Holyrood could also be allowed to sign deals with international bodies like the EU under proposals which the the ex-Prime Minister wants to examine. The Scottish Parliament should gain an extra £750 million a year from the UK to deal with the new powers Scotland will gain from Brussels after the EU departure.
Nicola Sturgeon has warned that a second referendum on leaving the UK is now “highly likely” after the Brexit vote which saw 62 per cent of Scots vote to stay in the EU.
On top of this, the appointment of hardline “Brexit” ministers by Theresa May, according to Mr Brown, means the “warring camps are now more dug in than ever.”
“The recent Smith Commission has already been overtaken by Brexit and the new Scotland Act is already out of date and will need revised,” Mr Brown said.
“I believe that we should examine a way forward that offers a more innovative constitutional settlement, more federal in its relationship with the UK than devolution or independence and more akin to home rule than separation.
“I have looked at the arrangements Norway, Switzerland and Canada have with the European Union and what relationships non-state entities have with the EU and the wider international community.”
As well as powers over farming, fisheries and regional policy which Holyrood is poised to get from the EU, Scotland should also be handed control over employment rights, Mr Brown said, with Nationalists and Labour both fearing these could be under threat from a Tory Government outside the EU.
A new UK agreement that would allow Scotland to sign up to agreements with international bodies, where Holyrood’s responsibilities are affected, should be looked at. A new financial settlement over and above Barnett for funding these responsibilities – possibly as big as £750 million annually - also needs to be part of the overhaul.
“I favour a people’s constitutional convention for the UK,” Mr Brown added.
“In other words current constitutional arrangements have been overtaken by events and I believe that instead of accepting we have to choose between two extreme positions – a Scotland in Britain but not in Europe and a Scotland in Europe but not in Britain – the more progressive way forward that now needs consideration will do more than independence or the status quo to meet the needs and aspirations of the Scottish people.”