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Lord suggests England should get a vote in 2023 Scottish independence referendum

A MEMBER of the House of Lords has suggested that the planned 2023 Scottish independence referendum should include all four UK nations.

Speaking during a Lords debate in on the stresses upon the Union of the United Kingdom, and making his first speech, the Bishop of Blackburn Rt Rev Julian Henderson said he accepted the opinion was “controversial”.

“I do wonder if a referendum is pressed for whether so major a decision with consequences for the whole Union should be decided by only one part and not take into account the view of the whole,” he said. “But I know that is controversial.”

Elsewhere in the debate, a number of members of the House of Lords expressed concerns that strains on the Union are growing.

Former Commons clerk and cross bench peer Lord Lisvane said in the time since he secured a previous debate in 2019 where the effects of Brexit were discussed, he said: “More than three years later, those uncertainties remain, and in some respects have become more threatening.”

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Conservative former Lords leader Lord Strathclyde said “We have nearly had 25 years of devolution. Enough time for us to get used to it, enough time for it to bed down with our constitutional arrangements, and yet … we haven’t. The stresses and strains are only too visible, too complicated, and it is clearly going to take considerably more time for them to work down into a workable proposition.”

Tommy Sheppard, the SNP‘s constitution spokesperson at Westminster, said the suggestions from the bishop were “politically illiterate”.

“I think it’s the ultimate irony that a body that is neither elected nor accountable, and belongs to a bygone age, has the affront to join the campaign to prevent democracy from being executed in Scotland and allowing people to have a say on the future of the country,” he told The National.

“That’s shocking – but to then compound that by the demonstration of such appalling ignorance about the nature of the Union is even worse. The suggestion that unless everybody in the UK agrees with changing the Union then no one component of the Union has the right to make their decision is farcical and politically illiterate, really.

“I’m hardly surprised, I wouldn’t expect much better from a body that has deliberately been stuffed full of British establishment and Tory cronies which have no interest whatsoever in democratic conventions.”

Meanwhile, the SNP’s longest serving MP Pete Wishart added: “How dare these unelected Lords lecture Scotland about democracy when they wouldn’t know a ballot box if it presented itself in the finest ermine.

“They are now quite rightly openly ridiculed the minute they open their mouths and pontificate about anything to do with our nation. Scotland wants nothing to do with this antiquated and embarrassing institution and a bit of self reflection might instead be in order.”

He went on: “One of the most satisfying by products of securing our independence is that we will finally rid ourselves of this weird concoction of donors, cronies, aristos and Bishops from the public life of Scotland.”

Earlier in the debate, independent crossbencher Viscount Waverley spoke about the importance of reflecting on why Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain within the European Union.

He said: “Brexit was an assertion made up mostly by the English and for the most part, this Government is considered to be an English one. And only occasionally a British one.

“In understanding that it was the English community living in Wales that tilted that country to leave the European Union, should we be reflecting on why the devolved nations voted therefore to remain within the European Union?”

He added: “What is it about one state of a union that does not apply to the other?

“An effect of Brexit has been to loosen the social contract binding Britain’s union of nations together, revealing the Union as of the English, by the English, for the English.

“And taken as a whole, there is no example of a federal state anywhere where one of the components of the federation is so large.”

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The Lords Constitution Committee took evidence from Communities Secretary Michael Gove, the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, and the Labour First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford, among others.

In its report, the committee stressed that there is “no room for complacency” about the future of the United Kingdom, and that there are “clear and achievable” means to make it fit for the 21st century.



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