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Independence: UK reshuffle sparks devolution row

Stephen Crabb, the new Welsh Secretary, once described devolution as

Stephen Crabb, the new Welsh Secretary, once described devolution as "constitutional vandalism". Picture: Getty

  • by DAVID MADDOX
 

THE UK Government’s commitment to handing more powers to Holyrood in the event of a ‘No’ vote on Scottish independence has been questioned, after it emerged that the new Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb once described devolution as “constitutional vandalism”.

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The row broke out as questions were also asked about the future of the Barnett Formula, which gives a generous settlement to Scotland, with the appointment of Tory right winger Priti Patel as the new Exchequer Secretary in charge of the block grant in the Treasury.

In 2012 Ms Patel said: “Failure to reform the Barnett Formula has effectively meant that Scotland receives £1,600 per person more than the English average which inevitably puts a greater strain on public finances.”

Writing in 2007, Mr Crabb said: “One of the legacies of (Scottish) Labour’s decade of constitutional vandalism is a confused and unstable devolution settlement for the composite parts of the United Kingdom.”

However, Mr Crabb said he made his comments because the role of Welsh Secretary was downgraded by Labour.

He said: “You had Welsh Labour ministers who were doing the job of Secretary of State for Wales almost as a kind of part-time bit of voluntary work.”

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said the reshuffle was a “warning” for Scots about the consequences of a No vote.”

Downing Street insiders pointed out that the nine of the 24 cabinet members are now either Scottish or have strong Scottish links.

Defence secretary Michael Fallon was born in Perth; Liz Truss, the environment secretary was schooled in Paisley; and Mr Crabb was born in Inverness.

They join Chief Whip Michael Gove, Chief Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael, Prime Minister David Cameron, Business Secretary Vince Cable and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith who are Scots or have strong Scottish connections.

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