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Former PM Brown endorses consultation as force to save the Union

This weekend the Sunday Times published eye-catching polling which highlighted significant changes in public attitudes towards the continued existence of the United Kingdom in its current form. Although support for Scottish independence has been high for some time, there have been marked increases in support for both a united Ireland and Welsh independence (though it is important to note that the latter remains significantly lower than the other two).

With Nicola Sturgeon announcing over the weekend that, if the SNP win the Scottish elections due to be held in May, she plans to hold an advisory consultative referendum on Scottish independence, it was with some interest that we heard the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown on the Today programme this morning advocating a more consultative approach to trying to reform and shore up the union.

Speaking to Martha Kearney, he highlighted that it was not enough for the elites and senior politicians to review the bonds of union, but to take a more bottom-up approach engaging with the general public and other stakeholders to identify problems and potential solutions. By speaking to everyday citizens, he suggested that it would be easier to tackle stress-points and ensure continued cooperation and amity across the UK.

Whether his ideas get any traction amongst ministers, keenly aware of any potential damage to the union, remains to be seen. Could a more consultative process be a solution to concerns about the approaches taken by governing bodies in the UK?

About the Author

Stephen serves as the Institute’s Legal and Parliamentary Officer. Before joining the Institute Stephen studied Law at Bangor University and pursued a Masters’ degree in Aviation and Space Law at McGill University in Montreal. After this, he returned to London and was called to the bar in 2016 at the Honorable Society of Gray’s Inn, before deciding not to go into practice and move towards public policy work instead. Within the Institute, Stephen provides legal, political and policy analysis of UK and global current affairs of interest to consultors and consultees.

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