Sunak outlines plans for Westminster encroachment into devolved powers
Tory leadership candidate Rishi Sunak has outlined plans to extend the UK Government’s operations into devolved areas if he is elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Scotland, Mr Sunak also said he intends to reform the UK Government’s union unit, which was set up by Boris Johnson last year in an effort to avert the prospect of Scottish independence, and pledged to put an end to “the Whitehall mentality of devolve and forget”.
The reformed unit, the former chancellor said, will ensure “every single” government department operates UK-wide, despite key policy areas like education and health having been devolved to the governments in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Laying out his plans for Scotland if he were to become prime minister, Mr Sunak said his government would be the most active in Scotland in decades by sending ministers to there more regularly and claimed, “Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP pose an existential threat to our cherished union”.
“Arguing that we should ignore them is dangerously complacent,” he added.
“We can’t just bury our heads in the sand and pretend they aren’t there – we need to stop them in their tracks”.
Earlier this week, Mr Sunak’s camp floated plans to add people who oppose the country’s “very existence” to a list of extremists, potentially criminalising supporters of Welsh and Scottish independence and of a united Ireland.
Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts said comments “criminalising those who peacefully call for the independence of their own country – classing them as terrorists – is deeply worrying and bounding into the surreal.”
Mr Sunak is attempting to claw his way back into the leadership race, after a YouGov poll suggested that 60% of party members said they will vote for the foreign secretary Liz Truss to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
Just 26% said they would support Sunak, with the rest not having made up their minds.
53% of members also said that Conservative Ministers and MPs were wrong to force Boris Johnson to resign.
Supporters of Sunak however told the Times who conducted the poll that it was “notoriously difficult” to sample Tory members accurately.
A campaign source said: “We’re fighting for every vote, getting Rishi’s message out to the members, and the country and the reception he’s getting on the ground is really positive.”
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