Margaret Smith, former Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh West.
Much was expected of the Lib Dems going into this year’s elections.
In Scotland, Willie Rennie confidently told his party’s Spring Conference that they spoke for the majority in Scotland who were for the UK and for the European Union.
This post asks: what, if any, impact is a hung Parliament likely to have upon the relatively new House of Commons procedure known as ‘English Votes for English laws (EVEL)’? Will a minority Conservative Government, propped up by the DUP, find its England-only legislative plans disrupted? And what of England’s constitutional position more broadly?
Margaret Curran, former Labour MSP, MP and Scottish Government Minister
Theresa May called the snap election hoping for a strong majority, to give her a free hand to deal with the EU. While promising a ‘UK approach’ to Brexit, the Conservatives rejected different arrangements for the UK’s component nations or anything more than a consultative role for the devolved governments. Following the General Election, this may have to change.
Now is the perfect time to think about maximising the benefits of Scottish devolution. The first independence referendum produced important new constitutional changes, enshrined in the Scotland Act 2016. It now seems unlikely that there will be a second referendum any time soon. So, we have a window of opportunity to take a step back, understand the Scottish Government’s new powers, and consider how the Scottish Parliament can best hold it to account, encourage new voices in politics, and represent the views of the public.
Following the election result some pundits have suggested that English votes for English laws might be an obstacle to the government, given its reliance on support from non-English MPs, whilst others have suggested the procedures might provide the government with an enhanced English majority. In this post Daniel Gover and Michael Kenny explain that neither of these possibilities is likely to occur.
Brexit poses profound challenges for relations between the UK and devolved governments. But, can the lack of understanding and trust that characterised intergovernmental relations in the months before the election give way to more positive relationships?