Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 11 September 2014


Next week the future of the United Kingdom will be determined by the Scottish referendum. After months of a steady lead for the NO vote, the gap has narrowed and the outcome is too close to call.  A YES vote will be the end of a highly successful 300-year old political union. The impact will be almost as great for the remainder of the United Kingdom as it will be for the Scots.  I hope and pray that sanity will prevail and that the majority will vote to stay in the Union.

Two points strike me very firmly however, based on this experience. The first is that if the Scots stay with us, just giving them more powers (devo-max) is not sufficient to deal with the democratic and constitutional muddle in which we find ourselves. We do not just need a settlement for Scotland, but for the whole of the UK, including England. It is time to debate moving to a more federal structure, with a Parliament for England alongside the structures already in place in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, no doubt with enhanced powers for each. Over this would sit some kind of Federal government to tackle non-devolved matters including foreign policy and taxation.

Our unwritten constitution has done very well in bringing us to this point, but if more devolution is to be given, more clarity and balance must accompany it, alongside a fairer deal for England.

My second observation relates to the European Union. If after 300 years many Scots still yearn for independence, what chance does the EU have of achieving ever closer political union in the long term? In 100 years or so, historians may well look back on the EU and decide it was a well-intentioned experiment that worked for a while, but policy-makers at the centre went too far in insisting on central control, neutering national sovereignty and in the end the people groups rebelled and broke away, hopefully without violence.

Some EU supporters might point to the success of the USA in becoming one coherent country. But this was different: more a case of virgin states of settlers coming together in very early days of a great adventure, with a shared vision and esprit de corps from the beginning.

Europe is made up of mature sovereign states, all with their own national pride. In the long run they will not be bullied by a foreign power. Just ask the Scots.

posted by Gary @ 09:09