The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that the centralisation of power in the United Kingdom is “excessive,” according to former Conservative leader William Hague.
Writing in the Telegraph he said that his party needed to “find something better than a sad choice between the break-up of the country and the status quo”.
He said that the UK Government should respond positively to former Prime Minister’s Gordon Brown’s ideas of constitutional reform while also noting that they would not be enough to save the union.
“Both Brexit and the Covid pandemic have heightened the differences between the constituent parts of the UK,” he wrote.
“The excessive centralisation of power has often been illustrated by the need for local knowledge and action in matters such as Test and Trace.
“There is a strong argument for Britain to have an upper house of parliament based on representation of nations and regions. ‘Levelling up’ has moved from a manifesto phrase to a vital national mission as the unequal impact of the pandemic has taken hold.
“The Conservative Party would be wise to respond positively to Brown’s idea, which at least has the merit of demonstrating that we can try to find something better than a sad choice between the break-up of the country and the status quo.”
However, he warned that was the question of identity which was the main driver of the United Kingdom’s possible breakup.
“Too many Scots think that English Tories are old fashioned types from the Home Counties who hanker after the Empire,” he said.
“What Boris Johnson needs to show about Britain in the 2020s – that it is an innovative nation fit for the post-pandemic world – is part of what is needed to save the Union.
“These objectives coincide. They are urgent. And they are one ray of hope.”
He warned however that the SNP would not wait around to see Westminster put any proposed changes into practice.
“If they win this year’s Holyrood elections, they will proceed quickly with plans for a new independence referendum, challenging Westminster to agree or to fight in the courts against what they will depict as a democratic mandate.”