Gordon Brown back in fray with challenge to Evel

Brown will try to find an answer to the West Lothian Question. Picture: Getty
Brown will try to find an answer to the West Lothian Question. Picture: Getty
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GORDON Brown is set to make a high-profile return to frontline politics to challenge the UK government’s plans for English Votes for English Laws (Evel).

The former prime minister’s dramatic return to the constitutional battle will take place when he becomes one of the first politicians to give evidence to a new constitutional convention to be formally launched next week.

The convention has been drawn up by the Lib Dem peer Jeremy Purvis with the support of the Labour peer Lord Foulkes.

Westminster sources have told The Scotsman that Mr Brown, who underwrote the more powers vow before the referendum, is keen to get involved in the attempt to create a better answer to the West Lothian Question than that proposed by David Cameron’s government.

A Westminster source said: “Gordon Brown is really keen to get involved in this. He warned Cameron not to go ahead with the plan before the election, and since then he’s been repeatedly on the phone from America, where he has been working recently.

“He’ll give evidence, and there’s a growing number of people from all parties keen to get involved and sort this out.”

Lord Purvis yesterday led the second reading debate on his Constitutional Convention Bill in the House of Lords

The Lib Dem peer said: “With widespread public and academic support I am pleased that the bill has passed its first major step in Parliament, with considerable cross-party backing. The bill seeks to end the piecemeal approach to reform which we have seen in recent years, and most alarmingly in recent days.

“The chaotic situation over English votes for English laws and the Human Rights Act draws sharp attention to the need for my bill to discuss how all these are linked. We need the convention to secure constitutional arrangements that will stand the test of time and I hope the government listens to the growing groundswell of support for it.”

Those behind the convention say the SNP will be asked to take part, but last night an SNP spokesman said: “We’re not aware that this self-appointed group has been in touch with the SNP, which is the government of Scotland and holds 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at Westminster.

“But the position of people like Lord Purvis and Gordon Brown makes no sense – they said during the referendum that the vow was all that Scotland needed, but now they say something else is required.

“Our focus is on holding the UK government to account.”