Author Archives: Robert Jones

Federalism motion has the answers the UK needs

Through Brexit and the pandemic, our country has undergone social and political upheavals which will certainly leave a longstanding mark. But these systemic shocks are potential turning points in history where we have the opportunity to remake our politics for the better. Constitutional and electoral reform are dry subjects which fail to enthuse many in politics, let alone the general public. Overcoming that is a challenge in itself, but the current circumstances mean it has never been a better time to make the case for reform for a politics that is more open, fair and representative.

On Sunday 19 September, Lib Dem Conference  will consider a motion on ‘A Framework for England in a Federal UK’ which you can read on page 63 of the agenda. I believe it is a very important motion, addressing some key questions for the formation of a federal UK: the lack of genuine or consistent devolution for England; and the relationship between England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Federalism can unleash great potential to empower communities, expand transparency and accountability, help to heal the wounds and divisions exposed by Brexit and to ‘level up’ the economy. Levelling up alone could deliver considerable economic growth in the ‘rest’ of the UK and lift millions out of poverty. But only federalism could do this. The kind of devolution the Conservatives and Labour have pursued has failed to truly empower communities and leaves Westminster all too often intervening and meddling in local and regional economies.

For me, the most important (and exciting) thing about federalism is its potential to genuinely empower people by radically shifting the balance of power. Under devolution, powers exercised at Holyrood, the Senedd or Stormont have in effect been delegated by Westminster. MPs can weaken those powers or withdraw them altogether, without consultation or the consent of those institutions or the people they represent.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 65 Comments
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