New ‘council of nations’ chaired by PM will ‘play to the advantage’ of Wales and Scotland says ex-SNP comms chief
A new ‘council of nations’ chaired by the Prime Minister will “play to the political advantage” of the Scottish and Welsh Governments, according to an ex-SNP comms chief.
It was announced last week that Boris Johnson will chair a council of leaders of the devolved governments in a move designed to improve relations between the different parts of the UK.
But a former communication chief for the SNP, Kevin Pringle, wrote in the Sunday Times that the new arrangement would create the impression that the governments of Wales and Scotland had equal standing to Downing Street.
“Overall, structures of this kind play to the political advantage of the devolved administrations, particularly in Scotland, as they foster an ethos of parity of esteem with Westminster, which is drastically out of kilter with the reality of a disparity of power,” he said.
“In other words, from an independence perspective, expectations are raised about Scotland’s clout within the British system of government that are incapable of being met.”
He added that “at the very least” the new council “creates another table to bang on all such matters, including the damage done by Brexit, which will outlast Johnson’s occupancy of No 10”.
Last week Michael Gove, the minister for intergovernmental relations, said all four administrations had agreed rules to setting up the new council to avoid disputes and resolve any that arise.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson added: “When team UK pulls together in common cause, spirit and endeavour we will always be at our very best. We’ve shown time and time again the combined strength we have in facing off the shared challenges before us, while also seizing the opportunities ahead for the benefit of the whole United Kingdom.”
John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, however said that “this rebranding will not deliver the step change in attitude and behaviour from the UK government that is needed if there is to be a genuine improvement in relations.”
Wales’ first minister, Mark Drakeford, however welcomed the new structure. He said: “The final package of reforms builds on the draft set of proposals that was published on 24 March last year.
“Further progress has been made since then to strengthen the package, focusing on the concerns we expressed with the earlier proposals.
“Overall, the package has the potential to deliver significant improvements, if the spirit and content as set out in the package is translated through into consistent approaches and actions, based on respect, parity of participation and parity of esteem, and a desire to reach agreement through discussion (and indeed compromise) not imposition.
“All four Governments have a responsibility to live up to these principles.”
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