Former Welsh Secretary challenges Archbishop of York to devolution debate
A former Welsh secretary has challenged the Archbishop of York to a debate on devolution.
John Redwood, the Tory MP for Wokingham in Berkshire, said he wanted to “extend understanding of England and Englishness” to Stephen Cottrell, as well as “expose lopsided and unfair devolution”.
He has hit out at a suggestion from the Archbishop that more power should be devolved to the English regions.
Writing in the Telegraph, Cottrell said many people in England feel left behind by “metropolitan elites in London and the South East”.
He added that they are “patronised as backwardly xenophobic”, and he called for “an expansive vision of what it means to be English”.
In his article, the Archbishop also called for Wales to sing God Save the Queen before international sports games.
He suggested that when the different nations of the UK play each other in sporting contests that they “belt out our individual anthems” before they “sing our national anthem together”.
In response to the article Redwood said he was “pleased to hear” his view that there needed to be more recognition of England and Englishness to complement the recognition of Scottish and Welsh cultures” in the UK.
But he added that he was not “persuaded” that the Archbishop understands the “nature of the English view” on devolution.
‘Happy to debate’
In a letter to the Archbishop, Redwood said: “I would be happy to debate these matters with you to extend understanding of England and Englishness within the UK and to expose lopsided and unfair devolution.
“There could be an online debate or we could book a room at Westminster with an audience if rules allow.”
In his letter he also said: “I was pleased to hear reported your view that there needs to be more recognition of England and Englishness to complement the recognition of Scottish and Welsh cultures and interests within the UK Union.
“I was not however persuaded that you do understand the nature of the English view when you went on to propose the international and EU elite solution to the English problem, more devolution to regions.
“England has rejected EU/Whitehall proposals to create artificial regions with elected governments.
“Many of us resented the way the EU refused to put England on their maps but broke us up into unpopular Euro regions.
“We were relieved they allowed Scotland and Wales to escape whole and unscathed. We are now concerned about the EU’s aggressive approach to Northern Ireland.