Downing Street rejects Orkney’s plans to consider its constitutional future
Downing Street has rejected suggestions Orkney could loosen ties with the United Kingdom.
Orkney’s council leader James Stockan has put forward a motion which says it is time for the islands to consider other forms of governance, possibly along the lines of crown dependencies such as Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, or reviving historic links with Norway.
However, No 10 shut down the options, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman telling reporters: “First and foremost, there is no mechanism for the conferral of crown dependency or overseas territory status on any part of the UK.
“But fundamentally, we are stronger as one United Kingdom, we have no plans to change that.”
The spokesman added: “We’ve got no plans to change the devolution settlement.”
Orkney was already being supported with £50 million through the islands growth deal, No 10 said.
Mr Stockan’s motion will be considered by Orkney Islands Council on Tuesday.
It states that “due to historical and contemporary challenges” over funding, “Orkney Islands Council should now explore options for alternative models of governance that provide greater fiscal security and economic opportunity”.
That should include looking at “Nordic connections, crown dependencies and other options for greater subsidiarity and autonomy to be presented to the community for consideration”.
The council leader’s motion does not commit the council to any of these options and the officials’ report notes that any constitutional change would likely require a combination of petitions, referenda and legislation at Holyrood and Westminster.
Mr Stockan told the BBC he felt that Orkney is being “failed dreadfully” by Governments in both Edinburgh and London.
Funding is less per head than Shetland and the Western Isles receive, he said.
Orkney was under Norwegian and Danish control until 1472 when the islands were given to Scotland as part of Margaret of Denmark’s wedding dowry to King James III of Scotland.
Mr Stockan told the BBC: “We were part of the Norse kingdom for much longer than we were part of the United Kingdom.
“On the street in Orkney, people come up and say to me: ‘When are we going to pay back the dowry? When are we going back to Norway?’
“There is a huge affinity and a huge deep cultural relationship there. This is exactly the moment to explore what is possible.”
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