Proposal for new “Act of Union” being drawn up

Picture: PA

Picture: PA

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A proposal to create a new “Act of Union” to safeguard the United Kingdom is being drawn up by a cross-party group of politicians at Westminster.

The group believes the way to maintain the UK is by creating a “bottom up federal system”, which would then be backed by voters in the four nations in a referendum to be held in the next four years.

The Labour peer and former Welsh Secretary Lord Hain, who is a member of the steering group of the Constitutional Reform Group (CRG), was reported as saying: “What is distinctive about the model we are proposing is whereas devolution up until now has been a top-down process...this is a bottom up process.”

Lord Hain said the system would see the four nations “federate upwards to the UK and decide what is done at the centre and at a national level”.

The group believes there are two main options for a new settlement. The first is a fully federal system. The second is using the current system of devolution to distribute power to local, regional and national institutions.

The Marquess of Salisbury, the chairman of the CRG, has suggested that powers reserved to the centre could inclde: economic security, defence, basic health and social care, human rights and distributing wealth from the south east of England to the rest of the UK.

Lord Salisbury believes the radical step needs to be taken to “wrest back the initiative from the separatists”.

Under the group’s plans, the proposal would have to be backed by voters in each of the four nations - Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In effect, any one of the nations would have a veto on the proposal.

Lord Salisbury has admitted there is a “high risk” of the Scottish Government not accepting the plans.

READ MORE: Lost Edinburgh: The Act of Union

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