UK Gov responds with ‘warm words’ but is a ‘bit opaque’ on plan to save the union
The UK Government has responded with “warm words” but is a “bit opaque” on a plan to save the union, according to the official who drafted it.
Former minister Andrew Dunlop, who sits in the House of Lords, was discussing his suggestions on how forge better relations between Westminster and the devolved governments when he made the comments.
One of his proposals is to replace the Joint Ministerial Committee system, which he described as “not fit for purpose”, with a new UK Government and Devolved Administrations Council.
In joint meeting of the Welsh, Scottish, Northern Ireland and public administration and constitution affairs committees on the Dunlop Review into the UN Government’s Union capability, he said a key test for Boris Johnson would be whether who chaired it and how often.
Dunlop said: “If those reforms are to succeed then I think it’s very important that the Prime Minister gives a strong lead.
“It there’s one aspect of the package that disappoints me, it’s that the role for the Prime Minister appears quite limited… to one meeting a year and it’s a meeting he could delegate to somebody else.
“In my view, the bare minimum is two meetings a year that the Prime Minister should absolutely chair, because this is about building better relationships.
“I would regard that as one of the key tests of how seriously the Government takes the job of strengthening the Union.”
‘Change in the culture’
He added that until there was a full-scale change in the culture of Whitehall there should be a cabinet secretary with responsibility for holding the Union together.
He said: “We don’t need a department for the Union, we need a Government for the Union. Every secretary of state, every minister, should have devolution, the Union, rushing through their bloodstream.
“But we have got to acknowledge that does require a fundamental change of culture.
“The most difficult change to achieve is that culture change.
“Until we get to that steady state, we do need a secretary of state for the Union who is really focused on driving that change.”