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UK Government ‘forgets Wales is there’, says constitution expert

22 Feb 2021 2 minutes Read
Picture by on the left by the Senedd (CC BY 2.0). Westminster by Stevebidmead.

The UK Government “forgets” Wales is there, according to an expert on the constitution.

Professor Michael Keating, the chair of Scottish politics at the University of Aberdeen, told BBC Radio Scotland’s The Sunday Show that every few years the UK Government “wakes up to the reality of devolution”.

Professor Keating warned that the biggest threat to the union came from unionism because “it’s becoming rather forced” and “very defensive”.

He also said that a federal UK isn’t likely to work as England would have to be included in it and the people there are “just not interested in federalism”.

However, he added that a “federal understanding” might work, whereby Westminster has no power to legislate in devolved areas, as it currently does.

Professor Keating said: “There also needs to be a rethink of intergovernmental relations. Every few years the UK Government wakes up to the reality of devolution. It’s not that the UK wants to do down Scotland most of the time, it just forgets that Scotland and Wales are there.”

‘Devolution’ 

He added said: “From 1999 the Unionist parties conceded devolution, but on the other hand they seem to have lost that sense of the Union being different things.

“Now that the Union is under pressure, they are trying to reinvent Unionism as something it never really was, namely a single thing right across all the nations of the United Kingdom and they just don’t fit together.

“These Unions are very different things because these Unions are very different in nature so it’s becoming rather forced.

“Unionism then – rather than being an umbrella within which these various national identities could co-exist and co-operate – has become a bit of a national identity itself with all this stuff about the Britishness debate and British values.”

Keating also hit out at teaching school children that ideas such as “democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those of different faiths and beliefs” are “British values” because are not mutually exclusive to Brits.

He said: “Everybody believes in these values, there is no reason to attach that particularly to be British as opposed to being Scottish or Irish or Welsh or English for that matter.”

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