Michael Gove in talks with Gordon Brown on how to save the union - reports

Michael Gove has ‘compared notes’ on how best to save the union with former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown as concern around support for Scottish independence and a united Ireland grow.

Gordon Brown has been contacted by Michael Gove on how the union could be saved.

Reports in The Sunday Times state that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has held talks with the former Labour prime minister around both the Conservatives and Labour’s plans to thwart the SNP’s push for independence.

Mr Brown is leading a review of Labour’s policy position on the constitution which could suggest a federal system with new powers for Holyrood and is expected to return its recommendations within 18 months.

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Such a model – which has been promoted by some within Scottish Labour for years - would see almost all powers apart from foreign policy and defence devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

That option could be a third choice in any referendum.

The talks come as Downing Street has reportedly stepped up its attempts to tackle the SNP’s dominating support, with plans to fight the Holyrood elections without promising further constitutional concessions.

The Sunday Times reports the Union policy implementation committee also plans to launch a campaign aiming to show the benefits of the Union, continue to oppose a referendum and hope the SNP battle internally about tactics, only consider further devolution within wider reforms across the UK, and controlling the timing and terms of any independence referendum.

The paper also reports plans to challenge the “woke left view” that Scotland’s union with England is a residue of empire and highlight the diversity within the UK Government cabinet while selling the union as being forward thinking on climate change and technology.

More work will go into showing how the UK Government has aided Scotland during the pandemic through the Treasury and vaccine rollout, with the replacement for EU structural funds to be branded with Union flags to boost support in the Highlands rather than give the Scottish Government the credit.

A royal commission into devolution is also still a possibility and one Boris Johnson is attracted to, states the Sunday Times.

Ministers are also reportedly exploring the extension of the franchise for any Scottish independence referendum to adults born in Scotland but living elsewhere in the UK.

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