UK: Cross-party group proposes new Act of Union

Lord Campbell

A new Act of Union that would “wrest back the initiative from the separatists” and create a federal Britain has been proposed by a cross-party parliamentary group in a new draft bill.

The Constitution Reform Group’s (CRG) proposal would save the union and offer an alternative to Scottish independence.

The Act of Union Bill 2016 aims “to affirm that the peoples of nations and parts have chosen to continue to pool their sovereignty for specified purposes, and to provide universal citizenship with social and economic rights”.

Lord Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, said: “The referendum on Scottish independence followed swiftly by the flawed implementation of English votes for English laws and the enormous electoral success of the SNP, brought to the forefront of public consciousness the deep imbalances in the make-up of the Union.”

Other members include Lord Hain, the former Labour Northern Ireland Secretary and the Marquess of Salisbury, former Conservative leader of the Lords.

The CRG would like to see a bottom-up, federalised UK in which each of its four constituent nations would decide its powers they wanted to have and then “federate upwards”, handing power to the UK Parliament on issues such as defence.

All four nations would have to approve the plan in a referendum in order to implement it.

Lord Campbell added: “The CRG was formed to address these imbalances and we believe that the bill we have drafted is a good starting point. We want to turn the process of devolution upside down; the four nations of the United Kingdom should be sovereign but agree to pool that sovereignty on issues that it is agreed are best handled at a UK level.

“The issues that divide the nation are far outweighed by the common values and cultures that have bound us together for hundreds of years. We hope that the new Prime Minister will take this unprecedented opportunity to realign our Union and secure it for centuries to come.”