The devolution implications of Liam Fox’s resignation

Liam Fox’s resignation as Defence Secretary will have a significant effect on the devolution debates.  Fox may have sat in Parliament for North Somerset, but his interest in Scottish affairs has remained a significant factor since he entered government – making him one of relatively few Scottish voices in Cabinet, and among front-rank Conservative politicians.  He is, of course, a staunch Unionist of an old-fashioned stamp, seemingly very uneasy about devolution let alone any further extension of that.  One telling example of his approach was his over-spun line that weighting defence cuts in such a way as to limit their impact in Scotland would ‘save the Union’ (see the Scotsman’s story here – this was the front-page lead that day).  But I gather his influence goes further than that, and that his has been an important voice in limiting the steps the Conservative Party and UK Coalition Government were willing to take in devolving further powers to Scotland.  (It seems his influence has been much more restrictive than that of the other Anglicised Scot in Cabinet, Michael Gove.)

Fox’s removal from government is therefore likely to alter the balance in further discussions about what should happen.  One significant voice opposing extensions of devolution has gone, as all the appointments made in the mini-reshuffle are of English MPs and none of them have shown much interest in Scottish matters.  If the Liberal Democrats want seriously to open the door to meaningful change in the Scotland bill, the circumstances make it much easier for them to do so.

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1 Comment

Filed under Calman Commission/Scotland bill, Conservatives, Scotland, Westminster, Whitehall

One response to “The devolution implications of Liam Fox’s resignation

  1. Pauline McNeill

    Allan

    Your blog is excllellent and I read it regularly. For your information the Labour submssion was to the Calman Commission was a little bit more radical that the report in that it argued for some devolution over welfare benefits and more administritive scrutiny over UK bodies such as HSE a bit further than Calman. It may be that becasue there are different postions and definitions on Devo Max or positions beyond Calman , that some work may need to be done to consult people on the extension of powers for example I would support the devolution of the Crown Estate but probably not the complete devolution of broadcasting [ shared power in my view] -incidentally what has happend to APD ? we were meant to have that in the Scotland bill , has it disappeared?

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