One Nation Conservatism has done much for the UK, but in order to preserve the Union, we must fully embrace a new order.
Since the creation of the first devolved assembly in 1999, there has been an undeniable growth in regional nationalism and separatism. This is due to the view that the current union gives England too much power over the other home nations.
While the government in Westminster is undoubtedly England-centric, it is hard to call the Union English controlled if you do not acknowledge that, as the largest nation England will have the most influence. A rhetoric similar to this is often employed by the likes of the SNP and Plaid Cymru in their efforts to ‘liberate’ their respective nations.
In the face of such rhetoric, it is hard to refute because the UK and England specifically are practically in limbo. By not having a devolved assembly of its own, England is lumped together with the UK central government, further feeding the idea that the other nations have no power. By not giving England its own voice, the central government is admitting that they don’t see the people of England as a distinct group like they do the Welsh, or the Scottish or the Northern Irish. They are also playing right into the hands of nationalist parties that claim the union only exists to serve England.
The most simple solution to this problem would be to abolish the devolved assemblies and give Westminster full direct control over the constituent nations. However, this would never be practically possible. So, the next most simple solution would be to create a separate English assembly and federalise the UK.
By federalising, the central government is able to distance itself from England as it will hold an equal amount of influence over the home nations. It would also prevent non-English MPs from having a say over English matters (it is worth mentioning that while the ‘English votes for English laws’ scheme is practised, it is far from effective).
In the case of federalism it is also worth noting that all devolved institutions would be ‘assemblies’ rather than a ‘parliament’ as there can only be one parliament in the United Kingdom according to the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty. England would also gain a unique English voice and a sole representative in the form of a first minister.
While some may argue that an English devolved assembly would only serve to weaken our nation, it will, in my opinion, bring it strength. Through federalism, we can define the central government’s role, have a more broadly engaged electorate, give English people a voice that is truly their own and hopefully preserve our great nation for centuries to come.