Brexit impact on devolution could ‘undermine’ faith in government

A march in support of the UK's membership of the EU makes its way through Edinburgh
A march in support of the UK's membership of the EU makes its way through Edinburgh
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Public faith in government institutions could be underminded if Brexit has a negative impact on Scottish devolution, a think-tank has warned.

A reversal in the policy of power flowing from the centre to the regions is a likely outcome of the UK leaving the EU, a paper by the Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER) found.

Anthony Salamone, one of the publication’s authors, said relations between Westminster and Holyrood will never be the same again, irrespective of what happens post-Brexit.

A research fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Salamone said the best way to avoid future conflict was to have a written constitution which clearly set out the devolution of powers.

The SCER paper, which contains contributions from several authors, was published in the week UK law officers are preparing to launch a legal challenge against Brexit legislation passed by MSPs.

Mr Salamone said: “Broadly speaking, devolution and European integration were both considered to be one-way tracks – respectively, powers would flow from the centre outwards and states would progressively integrate. Brexit will end the EU track (in the UK) and, as a consequence, threaten the devolution track.

“Establishing the political principle, even if relatively subtly, that devolution can in fact reverse could undermine confidence in the governance structures of the UK. With all the fissures which Brexit is exposing, it seems

markedly less likely that the UK’s constitutional arrangements and intergovernmental relations can simply continue as they did before Brexit.”

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