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Former Union Unit head complains about powers being transferred to Wales

02 Apr 2021 3 minutes Read
Picture by Sergeant Tom Robinson RLC (OGL v1.0).

The former head of the Union Unit has complained about powers being transferred from Westminster to Wales.

Luke Graham, who quit as head of the team tasked with saving the union after a series of alleged rows and leaks, bemoaned what he called “one way kind of escalator” of powers going to the Welsh and Scottish governments.

The former Scottish Tory MP for Ochill and South Perthshire, who lost his seat to the SNP, made the comments in an interview with State of the Union.

He also praised the Internal Market Act, which was described as an “attack on democracy” by the Welsh Government because it took away powers away from the Senedd and centralised them in Westminster.

Graham suggested it was a way of having common frameworks through “consent”, despite the Senedd refusing to consent to the bill that was put before it.

On the Union Unit, he said: “I think it was needed. And it needed the PM to come in and really say, ‘look, this is a number one priority for me.’ Because after 20 years of devolution it’s all just been very much a one way kind of escalator with more and more powers being transferred; not necessarily to the Scottish Parliament, but to the administration in Edinburgh specifically, and a few more powers for the for the Welsh Government as well.”

‘One way’ 

He added: “And this one way direction of travel had just led to a culture in Westminster and Whitehall of ‘devolve and forget’.

“A lot of civil servants, a lot of SpAds, a lot of ministers simply wouldn’t consider Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland if the issue was devolved or transferred.”

“The brief really was to try and address the imbalance in Westminster – in Whitehall specifically – between devolution and the Union and to try and make sure that the heart of government was looking at all parts of the UK, rather than just England, and to build a team at the centre in Number 10 and in the Cabinet Office that could then effectively join up policy across government to make sure it could work and make sure you could deliver for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

In his defence of the Internal Market Act, he said: “Some of the rules and regulations that were coming from Europe were now going to be the responsibility of the UK, either at a central government level or devolved government level.

“And actually having common frameworks, you can, through consent and consultation, work together to establish common standard across the whole UK. And what I’d like to see in this next evolution of Westminster governance, is that really Parliament becomes back at the heart of the national conversation.”

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