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Thursday, July 16, 2020

Will it be the Unionists who cause the break-up of the UK?

It may be that the nationalist parties have gone as far as they can in securing independence for their respective countries, but fear not, the unionist parties are at hand to finish the job.

The Independent reports that Boris Johnson’s government is on collision course with Edinburgh and Cardiff after releasing proposals for a post-Brexit settlement which have been denounced by the Scottish National Party as a Westminster power grab:

The plans contained in a government white paper include the creation of an independent body to “monitor and analyse” regulations passed in the four nations of the UK to ensure that they do not diverge in a way which would create barriers to trade.

The SNP’s leader in Westminster warned on Wednesday that the creation of an “unelected, unaccountable” organisation to pass judgment on the decisions of the Scottish parliament would not be accepted.

Under plans published for consultation by business secretary Alok Sharma, some 111 powers returned from the EU after the end of the Brexit transition period in December will be devolved to Scotland, 70 to Wales and 157 to Northern Ireland, in areas ranging from public procurement to water quality to agricultural support.

But new measures will be put in place to ensure that businesses across the country are able to trade unhindered in all four nations of the UK.

Ministers warned that without action to protect the UK’s internal market, businesses risked “a complex and increasingly fragmented regulatory environment” after departure from the EU.

Proposals contained in the white paper would enshrine the principles of mutual recognition of regulations between the four nations and a “level playing field” for companies across the UK, they said.

Whitehall sources insisted that the changes would not get in the way of devolved governments taking independent action in their areas of competence, as seen when Scotland introduced minimum pricing of alcohol and Wales moved ahead of the rest of the UK to impose a charge on disposable plastic bags.

But Ian Blackford told the House of Commons that the plan was part of a “full-scale assault on devolution” by the Westminster government.

With polls showing increasing support for independence in Scotland, and with Northern Ireland already on the verge of being cut off from the rest of the mainland by the Prime Minister's Brexit deal customs regime, this could be the final straw that sends those respective countries over the edge.

For a unionist, Boris Johnson is going the right way to undermine and break-up the union.
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