Gordon Brown: Scotland is not stable, or secure in Union
In a speech at Southbank Centre in London, the former Prime Minister claimed Scotland is “not stable” and claims the EU Withdrawal Bill has generated a new set of grievances. Mr Brown said the bill should be altered to restrict the amount of time Westminster can “freeze” devolved powers after Brexit. “A house that appears deeply divided cannot stand,” he warned.
The former prime minister will say that “Scotland’s place in the union is not as secure as it should be” and the Government’s handling of the process of leaving the EU is generating “a new set of grievances”.
The ex-Labour leader has put forward a series of suggestions to ease concerns over immigration, sovereignty and the NHS in an effort to address the implications of the “seismic” Brexit vote, which was a “revolt” against the political, industrial, financial and cultural establishment.
Mr Brown, who will appear at an event with his wife Sarah in London tonight, will say the UK is at “serious risk of being permanently paralysed by seemingly irreparable divisions”.
“The public want Westminster to address the core causes of their dissatisfaction - concerns about stagnant wages, left behind communities, migration pressures, sovereignty and the state of the NHS,” he will say, concerns which cannot be addressed simply by “fixing the fine print of Brexit”.
At his speech in London, Mr Brown will say there could be “long-term consequences” from the current disunity in the UK.
“Scotland’s place in the union is not as secure as it should be and Scotland is not stable,” he will say.
“The current EU Withdrawal Bill, which reverses without Scottish consent some of the devolution settlement - at least for a seven year period - is generating a new set of grievances.”
As a compromise measure, Mr Brown suggests that the time during which powers which return from Brussels after Brexit are held in Westminster instead of the devolved administrations should be limited to five years rather than seven.
But there is also a “deep division of opinion” in relation to Northern Ireland, while in Wales and northern England there are “areas which feel Whitehall is ever more remote”.
“We know from history that a house that appears deeply divided cannot stand,” he will say.