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Former PM John Major calls for reformed UK to tackle rising support for Welsh and Scottish indy

27 Mar 2021 2 minutes Read
John Major. Picture by Chatham House – Chatham House Prize 2010 (CC BY 2.0).

Former PM John Major has called for a reformed UK to tackle rising calls for Welsh and Scottish independence.

Warning that “in Wales, support for independence has risen,” he said that denying calls for referenda would not stop support for the break-up of the UK from rising.

“A global Britain will thrive best with a constitutional arrangement acceptable to every part of the UK,” he said in an article in the Financial Times.

“For a reformed UK may look much more appealing to disillusioned minds in and beyond Scotland.

“If the Union is to be kept together, it must be as a true partnership. The government must engage, encourage, examine and explore arrangements to emphasise the value of a UK working in harmony.”

‘Unwise’

He warned that Boris Johnson would “provoke” the break up of the UK unless he engages with the crisis in the Union to convince voters to reject it.

He warned in particular that the SNP would be boosted if London simply refuses to allow a second poll without big changes to the devolution settlement

“Scotland cannot be kept forever in an arrangement if her people wish to end it,” he said.

“Boris Johnson probably has a legal right to refuse to sanction a second independence referendum. But he should be wary how he uses that power.

“It is unwise to dismiss Scottish ambitions, or to delay any vote, without action to expose the reality of separation – and remedy shortcomings in the UK’s devolution settlement.

“A blunt refusal would be a still greater error if accompanied by the provocative assertion that Scots should wait another generation before voting again. Such a hardline approach is more likely to provoke a break-up than prevent it.”

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