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England’s MPs not ‘engaged’ in saving the union says former Conservative leadership candidate

27 Feb 2021 2 minute read
Rory Stewart. Picture by the UK Government (OGL v1.0).

The UK Government and English MPs don’t spend as much time as they should in saving the union, a former Conservative leadership candidate has said.

Rory Stewart told State of the Union that MPs from England in particular were “not as engaged, curious, as absorbed as they should be”.

The former MP for Penrith and the Border served as Secretary of State for International Development in Theresa May’s government before standing in the 2019 Conservative leadership election.

He said that not enough time was spent on the question of saving the Union when he was sat around the Cabinet table at No 10 Downing Street.

“There was the challenge that the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales had lost status over time,” he said.

“So it was important to make sure that this thing had a much more senior position at the Cabinet table. It was represented very ably by people like David Lidington and people like Theresa May cared a lot about the subject.

“But there wasn’t a single defined person doing nothing else. David had to do a number of other things at the same time.

“Fundamentally, it did not feel as we sat around the cabinet table that we spent enough time focusing on this and investing in this,” he said

“I felt this during the last referendum that although eventually, David Cameron’s government came around belatedly to try and make an emotional case for the union, they did it awkwardly and balatedly.

“It’s an English failing. It’s something about Westminster, something about English MPs with English backgrounds that means they’re not as engaged, curious, as absorbed as they should be.”

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