Gordon Brown: English votes plan puts UK at risk

Gordon Brown: reform would bring UK into 21st century. Picture: Scott Louden
Gordon Brown: reform would bring UK into 21st century. Picture: Scott Louden
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GORDON Brown has said that he agrees English MPs should have a decisive say in English laws but warned that Tory plans for Westminster will destroy the United Kingdom.

In what might be his last speech in the Commons, the former Labour prime minister attacked plans unveiled by leader of the house William Hague on Tuesday to stop Scottish MPs “holding England to ransom”.

However, in response to his critics’ claims that he wanted to ignore the so-called West ­Lothian question of Scottish MPs being able to vote on English matters which are decided for Scotland in Holyrood, Mr Brown insisted he is in favour of reform.

In an adjournment debate, he said: “I am not here as an advocate for the status quo. I start by recognising that this House of Commons is England’s parliament as well as the UK’s parliament and that we should agree a Commons committee reform that allows for detailed debate on English-only measures by only English members.”

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He said changes should be accompanied by reform of the Lords, regional and local government, the voting system and the Commons so that “the United Kingdom can finally move from having a 19th-century analogue age constitution to a 21st-
century digital age one.”

He warned: “The reality is that Evel (English votes for English laws) – the hunt for perfect symmetry in an asymmetrical world – risks jeopardising the Union in the long term. If the Union fell now it will not be because of what happened during the referendum, the result of which was conclusive, but because of what has happened since.

“It will not be because most Scots demanded independence from the UK – they did not – but because leaders here have failed to convince them that they were fully committed to its unity.

“It will not be because a majority of people now want to leave the UK but because people feel there is a Scottish interest and an English interest but not a UK interest.”

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