The Welsh Secretary has added his voice to the UK Government's attack on the Scottish Government's plans for independence. In a speech in Durham this evening, David Jones argued that open borders and a shared currency are only guaranteed for Scotland through a 'no' vote in next year's referendum.
Alex Salmond believes an independent Scotland could retain the pound in a currency union with the continuing UK. But could it? If Scotland decided to leave the UK it would also be leaving the UK’s currency. The pound would of course continue to be the currency of the UK, and the laws and institutions that currently oversee our stable, resilient and successful currency -like the Bank of England- would continue in place. But a separate Scotland would sit outside those arrangements, and would need to put in place new currency arrangements of its own.
Meanwhile, First Minister Carwyn Jones, who last week claimed that Wales could seek to veto a currency union with an independent Scotland, has been speaking in Dublin. He chose the capital of the last country to leave the UK to explain how England should fit into a devolved United Kingdom.
He told the Institute of International and European Affairs that he opposed an English Parliament "unbalancing" the UK. The First Minister instead suggested special recognition of English concerns in Westminster, plus "significant transfers of power" from Whitehall to large city-regions of England.
The UK is changing and the referendum in Scotland has thrown new light on the fact things cannot carry on as they are. A debate about what the constitution should look like is needed. I believe the creation of a constitutional convention, giving a UK-wide perspective on the governance of each part of the UK and their relationship to one another, is the way forward. The current system, with different processes across the UK is not fair or sustainable.
What is clear is the need for mutual respect for devolved legislatures. There must be consistency in the way powers for the devolved bodies are conferred and defined in law. Powers should only remain at the centre if it is strictly necessary for them to do so. Each nation needs to know exactly where it stands if we are to work together as a family of nations within a strong United Kingdom.
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