The UK’s Labor reforms, which will give Scotland a “greater” role as part of the new arrangements, will respond to “people’s desire for change”, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown insists.
The former Labor leader said the changes he recommended in a new UK overhaul would “make Britain work for Scotland”.
The package of measures, outlined in the Labor Commission’s report on the UK’s Future, could be key to winning the support of voters who are not committed to independence but still want to see change, he added.
Ahead of the report’s release, Mr Brown said: “The debate that people think they’ve had in Scotland over the last seven or eight years has been between independence and the status quo.
We are drawing up a program of sweeping constitutional, social, economic and political reforms to be carried out by a Labor governmentFormer Prime Minister Gordon Brown
“The nationalists told the people that the only form of change was independence. Now, with this report from the Commission, we are making it absolutely clear that the debate is now between change within the UK, which we are proposing and which a Labor government will deliver, versus change by leaving the UK, which is what the Nationalists are proposing. ”
He pledged that Labor would abolish the existing House of Lords and replace it with a new Democratic upper chamber – which would play a key role in enforcing the devolution regime by protecting the Sewell Convention, which states that Westminster should not normally legislate in decentralized areas without permission.
He promised greater fiscal autonomy with increasing borrowing powers for Scotland, also saying: “The Scottish Government will be given new powers to enter into international agreements and join international bodies in respect of devolved areas of competence.”
Mr Brown described this as “an attempt to show that Scotland can play its role in the world as well as its role in the UK”.
His report recommends transferring control of employment offices to Scotland – with the former Labor leader suggesting powers should then be transferred to more local areas rather than remaining in Edinburgh, although he stressed that this is a matter for Holyrood would be.
Other reforms could include a new Council of the United Kingdom, chaired by the Prime Minister, which would replace the existing system of joint ministerial committees as a way of bringing together ministers from the UK’s devolved administrations.
Another recommendation is that Scotland be represented in key UK national bodies such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Transport, Bank of England and the energy regulator Ofgem.
Meanwhile, “thousands” of civil servant jobs could be transferred from London to Scotland, with Mr Brown saying the report would name 12 agencies that could be relocated from the British capital.
The question now is what kind of change we can bring about in the next two years. We believe that if there was a Labor government we could make faster and safer changesFormer Prime Minister Gordon Brown
“Our proposals are very substantive,” the former prime minister stressed, saying they offered Scotland a “bigger role in the UK, a bigger role in the economy, a bigger role internationally”.
His comments came as he insisted that “a serious plan to change Britain could be more attractive than independence for Scotland”.
He added: “Central Scotland want change, but they are not committed to independence as the only form of change”.
Overall, he said the 40 recommendations outlined in the 155-page report represented “a new way forward for Scotland”.
The former Labor leader, who was tasked by Sir Keir Starmer with carrying out the review, added: “We are drawing up a program of major constitutional, social, economic and political reforms that will be carried out by a Labor government.
“That is the answer to people’s desire for change.”
With Britain’s Supreme Court recently ruling that Holyrood cannot hold a second independence vote without Westminster’s consent, Mr Brown said: “There will be no referendum, people are accepting that now. The SNP accepts that.
“The question now is what kind of change we can bring about in the next two years. We believe that if there was a Labor government we could make faster and safer changes.”
I believe the people of Scotland will want to support what we are doing, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it will be implemented immediatelyFormer Prime Minister Gordon Brown
With Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowing to now challenge the UK’s next general election as a de facto referendum, Mr Brown stated: “Let’s see the difference between what they (the SNP) want and the social, economic, political and constitutional reforms which are absolutely enormous in their impact and in line with Scottish opinion.
“I believe people in Scotland will want to support what we are doing, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it will be implemented immediately.
“We have a UK reform program that we as a government can implement if we come to power with a majority.
“We’ve got our hopes up on that, but it’s what I think the people of Scotland want, they want change that will happen quickly, they want change that will happen without conflict, they want change that will be fair, that’s what we’re offering.”
Commenting on SNP deputy leader Keith Brown said: “After months of making this report big, this is yet another disappointing constitutional reform plan from the Labor Party full of vague platitudes, empty promises and what feels like the 10,000th time that they have committed. to reform the House of Lords.
“Ironically, a report that claims in many cases to be about strengthening decentralization actually seems to undermine it.
“The fact is that Labor is now a pro-Brexit party with a pro-Brexit leader. They fully agree with the Tories when it comes to ignoring Scotland’s vote to remain in the EU, and ignoring the democratic will of the Scottish people to determine their own future – and nothing in these proposals changes Which.
“Independence will allow Scotland to build a true partnership of equals with other nations on these islands – not only protecting the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament, but also enabling us to escape the failing Brexit-based UK economic model and a fairer, more prosperous and sustainable Scotland.”