17 November 2020
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is desperately trying to dissolve the UK's ties with Europe, and so he is not particularly well-positioned to argue in favor of continuing the Union of the four nations that form the UK. Nevertheless, a unionist is what he claims to be. He just finished calling Scottish devolution "a disaster north of the border" and "Tony Blair's biggest mistake." That should boost the Scottish National Party at this spring's elections, and the Welsh Plaid Cymru has taken offense as well.
The spin coming from Number 10 is that the PM was attacking the record of the Nats in Edinburgh. He may well have been. The man is not particularly precise when he speaks, and he often thinks long after his words have been printed in the papers. Yet politics and appearances are inseparable. It looks like he is attacking the idea of Scottish, and by extension Welsh and perhaps even Irish, Home Rule.
The SNP has immediately made the most of this gaffe, and one should note that it is the best run party in the UK right now. the SNP's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, tweeted, "Oh dear oh dear so much for the new softer respectful approach, well that has not lasted. [Johnson's] attitude explains the power grab of the internal market bill, devolution to be dismantled our Parliament under attack. We can stop his wrecking ball, it is called independence."
The Internal Market Bill seeks to address trade within Britain after Brexit. The Tory government argue that it is necessary to establish a harmonious new normal for the country. The Scottish Parliament rejected a consent motion on the Bill by a vote of 90 against and 28 for, suggesting that the Nats are not the only party opposed to this.
A report from Lords on the Bill read, "The Bill adopts an unnecessarily heavy-handed approach to reconciling the demands of free trade within the UK and the need to respect the role and responsibilities of devolved institutions. It provides the UK Government with powers that could allow it to alter the competences of the devolved administrations in significant ways. As such, it risks destabilising this integral part of the UK's constitutional arrangements at a time when it has never been more important for central and devolved governments to work together effectively. These powers should be removed or subject to clearer duties of consultation and joint decision-making."
The Welsh counsel general and minister for European transition, Jeremy Miles stated, "The PM's comments are shocking but sadly not surprising. It has been clear for some time that this Conservative government is not remotely interested in respecting the devolution settlements across the UK."
The spring elections for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senned should see both the SNP and Plaid Cymru benefit from this hostility. In Scotland, independence is polling at an all-time high of 58% in favor. The Welsh nationalists will gain less because the Labour Party in Wales has been reasonably accommodating in the Senned. Voting Labour puts the boot in just as well as voting PC.
Still, PC Spokseman for Heatlh Rhun ap Iorwerth tweeted, "For avoidance of doubt... Those who seek to undo devolution are also seeking to undo the existence of #Wales as a nation. Let's not allow the desperate leaders of a failed UK state to dictate our future. Our future can & should be in our hands - all of us who call Wales home."
One does not douse the fires of independence by trying to take powers away from devolved governments. This raises a half serious question. Is Boris Johnson in favor of breaking up the UK so England can be run by him and his ilk?
© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.