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I watched 'This Week' - I couldn't believe it, I was furious. I'm only surprised it didn't get more attention.

"The Mail's reporter writes that the views of Mr Portillo "still carry significant weight within the Tory party."

I doubt it.

I didn't think he wanted to see a Conservative government, in any case.

Portillo gets more mad by the week. I used to think he was good although risky, but he is becoming more and more a liability yet less stable. We SHOULD defend the Union, otherwise we'll be weak. Being an island, it is the ideal geographical unit for governance - particularly borders etc. Plus it is divide and rule with the EU's "Europe Of Regions" - the SNP has already fallen for it, but please not the Tory party.

Scotland however would be better off without the subsidy, if it elected a tax cutting "Celtic Tiger Copycat", as would England and Wales. Why not just stop the subsidy and do this?

Why does the Conservative party saddle itself with all this baggage? Why is it necessary to marry right-wing economics with hidebound policies like Unionism and Pro-Americanism?

'Britain' is ALREADY broken up, it has been borken up by this Scottish dominated Labour regime, and Scots and Welsh did vote Yes for their own Parliament and Assembly.
The next part of the plan of this Scottish dominated Labour regime is to break England up into 'regions', to be ruled from brussels, effectivley wiping England off the map.

England needs it's own Parliament, if that means the end of this so called 'Union' then so be it!, England needs Scotland for nothing, and as a bonus we will get rid of all these anti-English Scottish Politicians (AKA The Scottish Raj) who are the ones behind all of this anyway.

I cant abide those people who are 'Oh we must save the Union'.....what even if it destroy England?!, wake up.

What will he abandon next?

This must be a first - an area where Michael Portillo and Simon Heffer are in agreement!

For what it's worth, my view of the breakup of the Union is that it would be painful but possible but should only be considered if a clear majority in one region or the other desires it. From a Scottish perspective, I see advantages and disadvantages to a breakup but am not fetishistically attached to the arrangement as an article of faith. Therefore, I feel that until you can prove to me decisively that Scotland or England would be better off seperate, then the Union should be maintained, imperfect as that it.

I also suspect that Scotland would get a better deal if England wanted to buy themselves out of this marriage rather than if Scotland itself instigated the divorce.

He isn't consistently hawkish and in fact his committment to the Nuclear Strikeforce is questionable.

There's no point in blaming Portillo. Cameron and his crew of idiots let this particular rabbit out of the hat.

If Cameron were serious about his "Blair's heir" strategy he'd dismiss all the anti-Scottish nonsense that the Tory right have been spewing out for years as yesterday's hot air and get on with focussing on the economy and public services.

But as with Europe he just cannot help himself when it comes to this issue - and he's exposed himself as just the same old Tory with a new coat of very thin paint.

Britain isn't "already broken up" - that's nonsense. The Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly are just creatures of the Westminster Parliament.

Basically it's simple, and there's no need to make a mountain out of a molehill.

It was agreed that voters in Scotland would assume exclusive control over certain policy decisions made for Scotland, through elected representatives in a Scottish Parliament. So now voters in England would like to have exclusive control over the equivalent policy decisions for England. That's not unreasonable, and in fact most Scots agree with the principle.

The obvious solution would be a separate English Parliament and government, with devolved powers similar to those granted to the Scottish institutions. But as 82 percent of the Westminster MPs are elected in England, anyway, that seems to be an unnecessary and expensive duplication.

Or the MPs elected in Scotland could solve the problem, instantly and at no extra cost. They only need to abstain from voting on matters which would be devolved to an English Parliament, if we had wasted taxpayers' money on setting one up.

As for Portillo, he's been marked down as disloyal to this country for some years.

Michael Portillo is only saying what a lot of people in England already think - or are coming to think . England's relationship with Scotland has always been characterised by Scottish animosity/ touchiness and English forebearance . It used to be low level , now it is high level and many English are fed up with it . That, combined with the glaringly obvious imbalance of there being a Scottish Parliament but no English one and Scottish politicians not hesitating to shove their way into English affairs - the latest is Darling on Sunday opening - is bringing the problem to the boil .
Politicians of all parties are not doing any favours to anyone when they try to play it down .

The British Union has always been a marriage ; marriages go through bad patches sometimes and sometimes they break up . Sometimes they get pretty sticky and then the partners get along a lot better after a damn good row . Perhaps a bit of long overdue counselling is called for to clarify a few things and talk about them in a non emotional way .

One thing - trying to patch things up with a bodge up of English only votes on " English " in the Westminster parliament sounds like a recipe for a further round of bitterness to me . Better for England to have her own parliament and then England and Scotland can get out of each others hair . And still be friends in the same Union.

altho. no admirer of Portillo and for what ever his agenda for saying what he said who can disagree? the union is gone Scotland will want more and more power and so will Wales,and why not? but lets not forget England in all of this, and lets face it all of new labour and quite a few Torys would like to, England must have her own Parliament and all the winging and hand ringing in the U.K.aint going to alter that

I think we should quit getting so worked up by Plotillo; he's just rebranding himself as a polemicist so he still gets work.

Well done Michael. It's beginning to look like a campaign. Skirmishers first then the main army.

EVfEL or even English Independence are an idea whose time is coming. England would benefit from 2p off income tax or even better the abolition of inheritance tax (from the money saved on the Barnett formula). The latter would have us harvesting votes across middle England. But its not just the Party which would benefit. DavidB has misread the situation completely if he thinks this plays into the EU's hands with a Europe of the Regions. 50 million people isn't a region - its a nation and would be the best possible bulwark against further regionalisation as that would then be a fourth tier of government. Plus the resugence of English nationalism and the re-formation of England creates a wonderful political climate to pull out of - I mean renogotiate with - the EU too.

Portillo spouts whatever his EU masters pay him to spout. If they can beak up the Union, they weaken us.

An independent Scotland would probably go for the Euro rather than launch a Scottish 'pound'.... Music to Brussels' ears.

Scotland would be locked permanently inside the Common Fisheries Policy, lose her rights to sell her oil at market price, and probably see her pension savings tampered with.

If Euro interest rates remain low, she would have a huge property boom,which would make 35 year mortgages the norm as they are in Ireland.

Being a rich ghetto sounds fun, until the kids leave home and cannot find anywhere they can afford, and Granny has to stay with you because accommodation is too expensive.

England would fill up with property-exiled Scots, and if the English do in time fight free of the EU, Scots would come looking for jobs in droves and a place to run their businesses.

If the Scots want to come to England, they would be most welcome I am sure as they usually bring many good qualities with them (I'm 50% Scots for example!). But is this what they really want to bring about? I doubt it.

Of course, Michael is entitled to his opinions. However, this is hardly what I would have called a "U-Turn."

Circumstances have changed since devolution under this Labour Government - changes that would be extremely difficult to reverse, if not nearly impossible.

Michael Portillo is merely reacting to the new political circumstances and world we find ourselves in.

"DavidB has misread the situation completely if he thinks this plays into the EU's hands with a Europe of the Regions. 50 million people isn't a region - its a nation and would be the best possible bulwark against further regionalisation ..."

Why? The regionalisation we've already had has been inflicted by a government supported by the majority of the MPs elected in England, and as far as I know it has never had to call in MPs elected in Scotland to push it through. Once the Union of Scotland and England had been dissolved, to cheers and the popping of champagne corks in Brussels, of course they'd come back to break up England.

The Union means that Scottish MPs vote on English issues. It means that certain important new medications are available in Scotland but not in England. It means that our public spending in England is lower than elsewhere in the UK. It means that the UK Government is free to do what it wants - like altering the Maritime Boundary between England and Scotland so that Scotland can claim more of the North Sea Oil, for example. That has already happened.

The Tories have long been regarded as the Party of the "haves" where I come from, and they continue to be out of touch with the ordinary people. Preserving the Union? When the Scots have foisted Foundation Hospitals on us? Have you seen the state of the English NHS? What about Top Up Fees? Scottish MPs once more made the crucial difference to the vote. But Scotland is not having them.

The Tories are as out of touch as ever, lost in a wonderland where "Great Britain" comes above the interests of the common herd in England.

Poor old Portillo. And what was Marr going on about "you are prepared to break up our country"? The UK is not a country, but a so-called Union of countries. The sooner it is history or we have a federal system, with domestic parliaments for each nation, the better.

If we don't defend the Union (but by all means level the pitch by resolving the West Lothian nonsense), surely we are bound forever to Europe, and we'll never halt the mission creep that has overtaken us ever since we took EEC membership.

I am instinctively a Better Off Out man, but let's do it as Britain rather than England. Visions of EuroJock customs officials searching the boot of my car for bendy cucumbers are too depressing for words.

Portillo really is a shameless, unprincipled scoundrel. A great many grand old Tories will be wondering how they ever imagined he was worthy of Cabinet rank. Hands up all those who suported his leadership bid.

Just a reminder that the 82% of the UK MPs are elected in England:

England 529 - 82%


Scotland 59 - 9%
Wales 40 - 6%
Northern Ireland 18 - 3%

Total - 646

Go back over all the masses of defective legislation passed by the UK MPs over the last 9 years, and there are a handful of cases, no more, where the presence of the MPs from outside England made any difference to the outcome of a vote.

If any blame for the present state of the country is to be spread beyond Labour MPs and their party, it should be spread to the English voters who keep choosing those rotten Labour MPs, and the Tory party for failing to provide an alternative - not to the Scots, or to the Anglo-Scottish Union.

Give the Scots a referendum.

HMMMM I think if you look on this site yesterday, you'll find that I mentioned it.

I was amazed, I could not believe what I was seeing/hearing. The look on Andrew Neil's face was incredible. As a prominent unionist has Mr Neil made his views known? Labour's abandonment of clause 4 was the end of the Labour party.

What Portillo is proposing is Clause 4 x 1000. The end of the Union is the end of the Conservative party. The Conservative Party exists to ensure that the union is preserved: thats it.

Portillo is being honest, what he said I'm sure is being discussed in private by many senior Conservatives. They have given up on Scotland/Wales. They only see a future for themselves in England and that mainly Southern England. Mr Cameron must come out and make a statement, 'is the Union sacrosanct or not.'


Exactly how can the Scots "foist" Foundation Hospitals, or anything else, on the English? 59 MPs elected in Scotland can't outvote 529 MPs elected in England.

The uncomfortable truth is that the English "foisted" these things on themselves.

If the MPs elected in England wanted to pass a Bill to exclude MPs elected in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from voting on "English laws", there would be nothing that those other MPs, or the government, could do to prevent that.

But the majority of MPs elected in England don't want to do that, and who's to blame for electing those MPs? The English, or at least the voters in England.

Maria - your point about changing Maritime boundaries so as to suit the Scots is a bit selective since the fishing boundaires were changed to England's advantage, and anyway these factors will only matter if Scotland or England become independent.

I've made the West Lothian points on another thread before but I'll make them again as I think they need making.

Claim 1 - Some say a federal system would be better as it would improve relations between Scotland and England by stopping Scots MP's voting on English only matters.

However, if each of the Parliaments in the Union was to be fiscally autonomous there would still be arguments over the amount that each country should contribute to federal expenditure such as for the defence and foreign affairs budgets. Should these contributions be on the basis of population or ability to contribute? The SNP claim rightly or wrongly, that defence expenditure is concentrated disproprtionately in England so there would be a fuss overe that.

There is then the issue of the UK's national debt. How should each countries conribution to this be calculated? Should it be on the basis of population with say Scotland taking its 10% share of the debt? Our water services weren't privatised so the state has had to borrow to finance infrastructure projects there. Not all expenditure is "identifiable" - how should contributions to this be calculated? The debates about this would cause tension as well.

An independent England would replicate these debates and the ensuing tensions. Then add in the additional difficulties over the differential boundaries for fishing and oil and dealing with pensions. It is also a near certainty that an independent Scotland would wish to enter the EuroZone.

Claim 2 - the West Lothian Question is unfair to England

a. The English did this to the Scots - In the 1980's English Tory Mp's did exactly that which is now causing such umbrage to those South of the Border - voted through legislation specifically for Scotland, for which their was no Scottish majority in Parliament. On issues like foreign affairs, defence etc which affect all the UK equally this is uncontentious. But there were Scotland-specific laws passed at Westminster during the 1980's on issues such as Scotland's distinct legal and education systems and these were passed on the basis of the votes of English Tory MP's. Irrespective of the changed constitutional arrangements of late there is absolutely no logical difference between these events in the 1980's and what is now occurring in the other dirtection.

b. Why is this matter always solely aimed against the Scots - The Welsh have their own Assembly, which means there is a degree to which issues discussed at Westminster will affect England but not Wales. The same will apply to Northern Ireland if and when devoltion is restored. It also applies to matters currently dealt with by the London Assembly, such that some issues discussed at Westminster will affect say Shropshire but not Sutton which produces not just a West Lothian question but a West London question.

c. Dont inflict upon others that which you wouldn't have others inflict upon you - It is a frequent occurence for MP's from English seats to outvote Northern Irish MP's on purely Northern Irish legislation, just as was done to the Scots and Welsh. Will there be NIVfNIL?

d. The Barnett Calculations and the futue of the Union - it should be borne in mind the way in which the block grant is claculated under the Barnett formula. The size of the block grant is determined solely by reference to the level of expenditure in England. It is a formula afterall. Thus the level of funding in Scotland is merely a side-effect of the level of English expenditure.

Therefore a Bill which otherwise applies only to England will contain a financial memorandum which will then automatically determine the level of the Scottish block grant. Irrespective of peoples views on the Barnett formula (though it should be noted that the Party is committed publicly to its retention) it must surely be conceded that Scottish MP's must be allowed to vote on the level of the Scottish block grant.

So if Scottish MP's are no longer allowed to vote on English only legislation (which is prima facie a fair proposal) then some other means will have to be found to allow a vote on the financial provisions of the Bill. Say a separate vote was to be held on the financial memorandum to the Bill we could have the farcical and unsustainable position where the Bill was passed but the financial memorandum upon which it was based was not. The only other alternative is that there be separate votes on the financial provisions amongst Scottish and English MP's. This would be tantamount to giving Scottish Labour Mp's a veto over the size of the block grant when a Tory government next appears as they would have a majority in Scotland and thus be able to block it. I cannot see how there could be both a Tory government and the retention of the Union in this situation.

I once championed the Union but no more. The Scots have become more anti-English over the years and the English are waking up the fact that the Scots are biting the hand that feeds them. Politically, Scotland is a Socialist country - a lot more so than Wales. The Scottish Tories will never get anywhere as they seen by the electorate as being run from Westminster (England). But, maybe, a Scottish-run centre-right party could convince the Scots to support the free-market? The Conservatives could benefit in both Scotland and England!

What has happened to the Conservative & Unionist Party?
A strategy based upon cutting of bits of the Kingdom which are "inconvenient" will result in our Party becoming the Southern England Party. In much of the UK this is already the case. Cameron's promise was to build One Nation. Portillo & his sympathisers opportunism might deliver a short term majority in England. But to what cost to the future cohesion of our country?
It is time the leadership stamped upon this nonsense, for we are either the Party of the United Kingdom or we are nothing.

When negotiating, it's wise to ask for an arm and a leg, so you can be bargained down to only the arm.

Screw the union..

Scotland will screw us eventually, we should make them pay beforehand.

Why should the union be sacrosanct.

Sure its been good for both sides up till now, but in a more integrated European community of nations why not?

Self determination should be a key Conservative principle - in Scotland as well as the Balkans. If the Scots want independence then that is their right.

I am saddened and angered at the casual anti-Scottish nature of too many of the comments here.

To help secure the United Kingdom, its' freedoms and democracy in the Twentieth Century Scots gave of their lives in much greater proportion than England and securing in the process 4 times as many VC's proportionally.

Tories talk of Europe frequently. Some here should reflect and cast an eye on the lines of white stones on the Continent that embody the true nature of the Union rather than the peripheral political voting in the House of Commons.

The generalisations and stereotypes about Scotland and the Scottish people are bordering on the xenophobic.

If you exchanged the words 'Scotland' and 'Scottish' to Jamaican, Pakistanis, Germans or Indians you would clearly see what I mean. (Try it?)

The key thing to notice is how Scots are bizzarely flipping from being the deadweight 'spongers' who are holding England back to the 'raj' masters that secretly control England.

This contradiction between a people being not worthy and then paradoxically being so powerful that they are behind all the major decisions is the key to look for in all xenophobia.

Of-course it is easily forgotten that a recent survey found around 60% of English people believe their fellow Britons should not be Prime Minister because of where they were born. It seems only those in the conspiratorial 'raj' can be anti- something.

Scots are a people, I sadly have to remind even English Conservatives, who have been with them for 300 years through the best but also ourtheir darkest days without fail, have never voted for independence and have never threatened them in any way (unlike other nations even on these isles).

To think that around 85% of the people of the UK who are English are not in complete control - or are being dominated by a tiny 5% of Scots - is so absurd as to be unworthy of serious debate.

Maybe there were boards like this in Serbia that complained that the Montenegrins were running Serbia and Montenegro? Then again, look what happened there.

This petty so called 'English Nationalism' is something any Conservative should be ashamed to be a part of. It goes against everything that made Britain great, together as our Nation of Great Britain we have changed the world in a way that no other country has ever achieved. Our shared values, and our successful union has been of greater benefit to ourselves and the rest of the world than anything else.

Without ALL parts of the United Kingdom we would have not be as strong as we are today, we would not have the most proud history of any nation, we would not have built the greatest force for justice and equallity that the world has ever seen. It would be a crime to throw all that away for the sake of a few petty nationalistioc sentiments a few papers and a few football matches have whipped up.

I think all Conservatives need to remember just how important Scotland is to England, and the Conservative Party. The Scottish enlightenment founded the basic principles of by which we all stand by today. There could have been no economic liberalism, or Thatcherism without the Union to forge those noble ideals in the first place.

Scotland is no more subsidised by England than the North of England is by London and the South. And equally, where would the South of England be without the resorces of Scotland and the North?

Labour has deliberatly created a situation in Scotland, Wales and the North of England with over reliance on the state to force the people in thiose so called labour heartlands to be dependant on a Labour government. It is not up to Conservatives to blame the public for this, or Scotland, or the North or Newcastle or whartever. It is up to us to stimulate these areas, so that we can break the back of the Labour bribes, and make sure that there is no such thing as labour heartland.

Regional government is purely a system whereby labourt can maintain some power when they get kicked out of office. Conservatives should be fighting to make sure that they are swept out of power in these areas as well.

Adopting racist nationalistic rhetoric plays only ionto the hands of labour, by allowing them to portray us as being a party hostile to certain area's. They want to use this as a way to protect their so called heartland from leaving them.

But already the tide is beinging to turn, labour look set to be kicked out of Government in both Scotland and wales next year- with a good chance of a Conservative first minister in wales next year. Even in Scotland we are on the rebound, with a recent poll showing us up from 15% to 22% for next years Scottish parliament Elections.

You can't right off one part of the Union just because things are not going well for us there. If we take this sort of attitude London may just as well dump the entire UK because it subsidises some part or another.

I spent most of my working life in the centre of London, enjoyed every moment of it. Most of the people I worked with commuted in, from a radius of about 40Miles. Most were Tory voters/Daily Mail readers etc, to them (pardon the expression) 'Wogs begin at Watford' They had no interest in any other part of the country, with perhaps the exception of the West Country, for retirement purposes.

Portillo comes from Harrow, was a London MP, like it or not, he is expressing a view common in the capital. I seem to remember Robert Elms (could be wrong) on radio London, half jokingly starting a campaign for UDI for London, he got an amazing response, 90% of callers emailers etc supported it.

There is no doubt in my mind, (wish it wasn't so) that most Southern Tories, support Portillo, and not only Tories.

Scots/Welsh Tories and others, should start to think beyond the union.

I am not a Londoner and I no longer live there.

Time to lance the boil and rid ourselves of another ex-colony which doesn't appreciate the largesse it receive through our benevolance.

I eagerly look forward to the results of the monthly survey because I suspect that the people who want to end the Union are a very vocal but tiny minority, and this thread is totally unrepresentative.

I'll be publishing those results on Monday, Jon.

Dean, I think you're being unduly harsh on England. Scotland may have disproportionately assisted England over the past two centuries, especially recently so with oil revenues, but the nations of the Union are much greater that the sum of its parts and long may it remain so.

England should declare unilateral independence, then a line be drawn from the Wash to Bristol and the North be given to the tender mercies of Scotland. The South can then prosper under perpetual Tory rule.

With respect Editor the question on the Union answered it's own question and was skewed completely in a pro-English nationalist way.

For example you say:

The relationship between England and Scotland has recently been a subject of much debate. Which of the following measures do you support to rebalance that relationship?

You have already decided there is an unbalanced Union here, but in whose favour? Are you honestly saying Scotland's five million people dominate England's 50 million? The English people control nearly everything from foreign policy to the economy without the say of anyone else. It seems bizarre that England is being deliberately portrayed as a victim.

Please tick ALL those which you support:

Elimination of the subsidy that English taxpayers pay to Scotland

This is a debatable point and not a statement of fact. Anyway, name one person who agrees with any subsidy? Why didn'y you put: Should London subsidise Newcastle? It seems you will get the answer you are looking for here.

English and Welsh MPs being given sole control of laws affecting England and Wales

Again, who is going to say no to this? This is another emotive and loaded question with the answer included. To be fair you should also asked whether Scottish MP's should have sole control of Laws affecting Scotland, which does not happen at the moment.

Don't get me wrong. This is a wonderful website but it seems strange that I have never read any story or blog that has been positive about Scotland in any way.

I am undecided on whether breaking the Union would be good or bad, and I don't understand why it is conservative to be unionist. And don’t give me any flannel about us being the Conservative and Unionist party, or being the party of conserving. Why does the UK do better as a union than as individual nations? If there are benefits, why doesn't the EU provide the same?

Dulouz, Jack W & Colin M

The Little Englander tendency is I believe a minority and I believe most Conservatives remain unionists. There is an emerging and welcome revival in Englishness and pride in England but unfortunately along with this comes some nationlism built on dislike of the "other". Its happened in Scotland, Wales and Ireland so not surprising it happens here. I think David Cameron's quick response to the ill advised comments by Alan Duncan shows that he at least recognises the dangers to the union of over-emphasing this area.

However I do get concerned by repetition of the urban myth (SNP/Labour propaganda) about the 80's and Thatcher's so called anti-Scots actions- the SNP exploded in the 70's and the Labour response in support of devolution was driven by that not anything that Thatcher did. The poll tax wasn't "imposed" on Scotland - it was introduced earlier in that part of UK in response to rating revaluations and extended to England & Wales for the same reasons. Labour & SNP created between them the spectre of the absentee English Tory landlord as a political weapon.

However it is true that from 1987 the poitics of Scotland & England diverged. Labour became less unionist and to some extent divided between its Scots traditional mainstream and English radicals - the so called loony left strong in English metropolitan areas. The victory of Smith then Blair was centred around the Scots party, which marginalised the mainly English vote losing lefties, with result that the cabinet is unfortunately disproportionally Scots.

It is likely that Labour will become more English - much of the new post Blair/Brown generation are English - and with Labour possibly also losing its strength in Scotland & Wales this may temper the developing anti-Scots/Labour tendency.

There is a long term difficulty that devolution exposes if the politics of each nation becomes inwardly focussed and each develops a different political settlement.

The big issue though is 2009 - if at next election there is a hung parliament and a Labour-Lib Dem coalition, formal or informal, is formed with the majority coming from Scots seats - Electoral calculus this week shows something close to this on current polls, Labour & Lib Dems holding their combined 52 Scots seats - then a solution to the WLQ will be vital. This will be even more so if Brown & Campbell remain leaders of their parties.

There is one theme common to this thread and the earlier one this week about Alan Duncan’s comments and that is that a significant number of posters don’t even want us to discuss the issue of the Union/the West Lothian Question /the Barnet formula ( they are all intertwined to me). Too many fall into the trap of saying it will all lead to the break up of the Union, or federalism , if we are not a Unionist party we are nothing etc etc.
The fact is that Scotland Act changed our constitution for ever. What we got was the wittering Dewar’s a half baked and ill thought through, shambles. What do you expect from an eccentric and odd ball outfit like the Scottish Constitutional Convention chaired as it was by the now out of the closet Liberal, the ubiquitous Canon Kenyon Wright. And now Ming the terrible wants another Convention to look at the West Lothian Question—Lord preserve us.
Michael Portillo merely seeks to provoke debate; don’t forget he’s half Scottish and knows Scotland well and is a frequent visitor to Kirkcaldy, curiously adjacent to Brown’s constituency. He is right to do so. It is neither racist nor foolhardy to debate these issues, rather to ignore them is in the realms of Canute.
Independent Tory MSP Brian Monteith tackled the issue head on in his Evening News column yesterday http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=993582006.
Having argued conclusively that there is no risk to the Union from a Scottish referendum on Independence and separation, he asks all three Unionist leaders in Margaret Thatcher’s Lincolnshire dialect are you frit? The danger if there is one, is in a referendum in England on separation, for whilst the Scots can be expected to reject separation, by a majority of 2to 1 the position in England is much less clear.We Scots need to articulate arguments that will convince the English that we can make a positive contribution to the Union, and that is not of the order of the ‘here’s tae us wha’s like us’ line some are taking on this thread.
However instead of taking a clear lead on the issue as Monteith suggests Goldie the Scots Tory leader, as usual has nothing to say. Is it because she fears that under her leadership an implosion of the SNP could see their tartan Tories defect to the Lib dems rather than return to a party who under Goldie and her lacklustre MSP group,who have singularly failed to advance any Conservative solutions to Scotland’s problems.
A referendum in Scotland would force the Scottish Tories into thinking through proper policy options that would preserve the Union, and at the same time tackle the dependency culture and statism which currently prevails. In short policies that would tackle the Scottish economy's constant underperformance.
Finally can Andrew Hardie please enlighten me as to where the poll showing the Tories at 22% in Scotland was published? As far as I am aware the last poll to be published was a You gov one for the SNP and that showed us flat lining at 15%. Equally in the last two by elections Dunfermline East and Moray or vote fell or flat lined. If such a poll exists it must have restricted itself to rural Perthshire. I would like nothing better than to see us making headway again in Scotland, but 22% is fantasy.

Further to DavidB. The point is that the political climate that allows EVfEL would be a rising nationalism and that would make any further pro EU moves politically impossible.

Further to COLINM. Claim 2A Yes this is exactly the same as the 80s and Scots anger at that unfairness led to Scots devolution and in exactly the same way English anger is going to lead to English devolution. Being the truely canny nation, we just don't want a separate lot of extra politicians, which is why I support EVfEL. Claim 2d The main English complaint is the Barnett formula. So I don't think you should pray it in aid of the necessity for keeping SVfEL. Altering the formula to a per capita basis will wipe out this argument with a stroke of the pen.

There has always been a great deal of woolly thinking about the UK. Psychologically Scotland & Wales have for years been chippy about England and rather enjoyed this "victim" status, using it to squeeze extra spending out of a majority English establishment. It has been delightful recently to watch the new Scottish establishment react with disbelief and amour propre at the English having grievances instead of them. The SNP have been clear that the minute they get a majority of Scots MPs that they will ask for a referendum on independence. All parties have agreed since the 70s that this would be their right. If a majority of English MPs ask for the same after the next election then this must be granted to them too. I don't see a request for independence of course but it is a mechanism for demanding EVfEL or an English Parliament off a minority Labour government and we might well need that.

A lot of interesting points there Ted especially about the differences in Labour politics North and South of the border - agree that our policies werent anti-Scottish, that the poll tax wasnt imposed and that the SNP emerged before the Good Lady came to power. I also appreciate your point about the WLQ and the increased importance of this in a hung parliament where Scots MP's could decide English-only issues. Would simply observe though that throughout our time in government we must admit that our English MP's pushed through Scottish-only legislation for which there was no Scottish majority in the Commons. I'd just make a few additional points.

With regard to the more technical issue I dont think there has yet been a feasible suggestion as to how the WLQ could be resolved without threatening the survival of the Union. For the reasons I mentioned above relating to the calculations of the Barnett formula I dont think EVfEL is an acceptable solution. If someone can produce such a solution thats fine but there have been English MP's voting on solely Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish legislation since God was a boy so I dont buy the argument that this is solely a technical matter about fairness for England since they've never had any qualms about imposing this form of "fairness" on everybody else in the Union. I think its just a political manifestation of the emerging anti-Scottishness amongst some people south of the border (predominantly Tories by the looks of it).

I'm also prepared to believe most English Tories still support the Union, but within the context of this debate I dont think thats enough. If there is an emergence of a noisy and vocal English nationalist wing to the Tory Party south of the border then that leaves the Scottish Party in difficulty and gives succour to the arguments of those who wish to portray us as being anti-Scottish. This thread alone has made me feel a bit uncomfortable - "the Scottish Raj", "we should make them pay" "England needs Scotland for nothing" etc. Never in a million years would you hear Scottish Tories refering to the English in the way that many English Tories seem to refer to the Scots. Indeed we've sacrificed a good many right-wing Nationalist votes by condemning such sentiments up here.

With regard to the similar emergence of nationalism in Scotland, it is quite true that this has occurred. However, the key difference is that the Scottish Party did not seek to harness/exploit that to our electoral advantage. We have always fought against anti-Englishness and the general chippiness of the Scottish Nationalists. It seems that the English equivalents of the "there is no God but Alba" brigade are mainly to be found in the Tory Party and that makes me profoundly uncomfortable. Afterall having opposed Scottish Nationalism we can hardly be expected to go along with the poltics of English Nationalism.

Jonathan, with regard to Barnett you claim that "Altering the formula to a per capita basis will wipe out this argument with a stroke of the pen."

Yes, indeed wiping out or at least altering the Barnett formula is the only way of resolving this problem. That does however, make the proposition that we should have EVfEL whilst retaining the Barnett formula a rather curious one (though I realise that is not your personal preference).

Your preferred resolution to this is a per capita funding system which sounds eminently reasonable but might not be quite so simple. Not all revenue or expenditure is "identifiable" to use the jargon, in that it cannot be attributed directly to any particular part of the UK. How is this to be dealt with under per capita funding?

Say each nation has a devolved Parliament and raises all its own money then paying a contribution to a federal Parliament for remaining federal expenses. Tensions would remain as the basis upon which contributions to Westminster were to be made would be controversial. Should it be on a per capita basis also? According to the estimates I've heard the identifiable aspects of defence expenditure (which would be the most obvious matter to keep reserved) are disproprtionately spent in England - what would be your model for Scottish contributions to that? Still on a per capita basis?

Would you cut off additional funding to Scotland or to all poorer areas? Northern England? Northern Ireland?

Would you reject all European regional aid funding? Under the EU's admittedly preposterous rules national governments must provide funding for EU schemes to complement the EU funds. These funds are aimed at poorer areas so the funding - and thus the UK government's bill - would be disprorprtionately in these poorer areas.

"Britain isn't "already broken up" - that's nonsense".

Nonsense?, really!, you could have fooled me!.


That URL again.


We must keep the so called "Union"...even if it means England being wiped off the map!....right?.


Yeah, yeah - a MAP naming Scotland, naming Wales, and naming EU Regions of England without naming England as a whole. Hardly anything new - that was the case with the official EU map of "its" territory until recently, when the word "England" was rather awkwardly inserted across the Midlands.

Which Union do you mean? These are European Union Regions, one of which is Scotland and one of which is Wales, the impetus for regionalisation has come from Brussels, its implementation in England has been primarily in the hands of Prescott, an Englishman elected in an English constituency by English voters, able to rely on a Commons majority of other MPs elected in England by English voters even if MPs from other parts of the UK were excluded.

And you think we should blame the Scots, and the Anglo-Scottish Union, not the voters in Hull and elsewhere in England, and the European Union?

Try to grasp this: once you've helped Brussels to split England and Scotland apart, they will come back to split up England, and if the English voted as they did in the last three general elections then Brussels will succeed in doing that.

Colin M

Thanks for your thoughtful response - I agree that much of the talk of Scots Raj etc, has come from the right; only to be expected if the preception is of a Scots Labour party imposing a Scots view on England. In Scotland, though the SNP has always mixed nationalism and socialism, I would think many potential Tory voters choose the Nats as the viable opposition as their emotive response to nationalism and dislike of Labour over-rides the social-democrat agenda.

I cannot see an easy answer to the problems of devolution. There is no great cry in England for an English Parliament separate from Westminster. I've been giving some thought to alternative solutions to the WLQ and EVoEL, one could to re-organise the Cabinet into Offices responsible for English legislation and those with UK remit. Winston Churchill had a small Imperial War Cabinet concerned with the key issues, whilst leaving civil government outside. This would clarify the division of powers and create the virtual English Grand Commitee/Parliament that would manage those areas "devolved" to England.

Separating Departments of State (in effect creating a UK Government that did what it says on the box) would also free our Conservative national associations to look at national solutions and campaign on those - so if the Scots Education spokesman had a different view of Education from the English one it wouldn't matter. How the English resolve local authority funding could be very different from how the Scots do it. UK Campaigns would be about the UK issues, suported by national sub campaigns.

The Barnett formula needs revision in view of devolution - its not about reducing the quite rightful requirement on the UK government to support the poorer regions but dis-entagling revenue division & apportionment from spending decisions in one nation. We do not apportion Business Rates on basis of what Ken Livingstone & London Boroughs spend.

In the end there is need to recognise there are separate UK and national competencies and we need to bolster the unionist UK ones - so that the Home Office for example becomes a UK Department of UK Affairs (taking in the UK bits of the Dept of Constitutional Affairs , HO Immigration etc) and English Home Office.

This needs to be done within a wider review including of the purpose and make up of the HoLs, the Bill of Rights, our relationship with EU and so on. However I believe that we can only stifle the national antagonisms by removing the source of these - which for Scots is perception of English dominance & for England perception of Scots over-representation in English as opposed to UK matters.

Well done Portillo. The only way to save the Union is for England to have a Parliament with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament. Anything less is just a continuance of the English being forced to be 2nd class citizens "for the sake of the Union".

You've only got to look at how English Votes on English Laws is now being watered down to know that England and the English is just continuing in the role of whipping boy for the rest of the Union. It's an abusive marriage. Either treat English people with the same respect, or give us Independence.

"Well done Portillo. The only way to save the Union is ..."

Portillo doesn't want to save the Anglo-Scottish Union, he wants to break it.

Perhaps later he wouldn't want to save the Anglo-Welsh union, and after that he wouldn't want to save England itself ... could it be that there's only one Union he really cares about, the one with its capital in Brussels?

The English are indeed treated as 2nd class citizens by this government, but not for the sake of the Union. On the face of it, the English have to be treated as 2nd class citizens because the alternative would be for MPs elected in Scotland to be treated as 2nd class MPs. In reality it's because the English keep voting for MPs who despise their English constituents. That contempt for the English has been there from the start, I'm surprised that it's taken so long for people to notice!

Another poll in today's Observer shows that the clamour for an English Parliament grows and grows.

This would answer the English question, complete the devolution process and eliminate the probelems that "English votes on English matters" would create. It would also allow the Union to continue to govern the UK on non-devolved matters.

Why don't the Conservatives get behind this popular issue? It would be a vote winner and, according to NuLabour, an eletoral advantage for the Conservatives.

Who can argue against it? We, in England, only want a refernedum for God's sake!

"Time to lance the boil and rid ourselves of another ex-colony which doesn't appreciate the largesse it receive through our benevolance."
Dean@21:48, You really need to go and do a bit of research before you make these kind of comments. The only reason that the Union has been so successful for 300 years is because all parts of the UK have contributed the people, skills and resources which have aided the economy.

For those who want an English Parliament - do you not realise that the power of England on this island would decrease considerably?

In a federal system you would have to treat the Scottish Parliament as an equal on all UK matters. At the moment, through sheer population size, England controls immigration, foreign policy, the economy etc. This would no longer be the case and would lead to England being an equal partner instead of the controller.

In an independent England, you would have no control over the huge land mass of the top third of this island. From immigration to foreign policy England could find herself seeing developments it can longer influence.

At the moment England runs the show. Are you going to give that up for a small constitutional anomaly? This seems very strange.

"For those who want an English Parliament - do you not realise that the power of England on this island would decrease considerably?"

Good. Too much power in too few hands is bad for democracy.

Reading through the above thread the main impression is the weight of concern for Scotland and what the Scots might or might not think and the minimal concern for England . A classic example is one of the entries , thus :
" Give the Scots a referendum "
no concern there for England . Portillo's remarks were mainly directed at England's relationship with Scotland , not the other way round .
I would have said
" Give the English a referendum ".

Why is this never said ?

Also remarkable is the rapidity with which anyone who speaks up for England - even mildly - is condemned as racist etc . The torrent of vastly more virulent abuse that the English have had to endure from the Scots is just ignored .
Someone remarked that the Anglo- Scottish is an abusive one . Spot on . Abusive marriages often endure for a long time before one of the parties cracks - thats what is happening now .
I am a Unionist and would very much prefer that the Union continue but not as it is . England must recover control of our her affairs - and quickly .

I don't think that many people in England see it as a small constitutional anomaly.

Take tuition fees (and I am in favour of tuition fees). How do you explain to someone in London that their child must borrow to pay tuition fees when it's free in Scotland? How do you justify that additional public expenditure on Scottish youth?

At least if we had EVFEL, we could say it was a democratic decision

"England must recover control of her affairs" - from whom? From the voters in Scotland, who elect - gosh - all of 9% of the members of the supreme legislative body for the UK and therefore England? Now if you said from the EU, which with the consent of that supreme legislative body for the UK defines 80% of our new laws, that would be more realistic. Or even if you said, from English politicians who don't care two hoots about England and the English, that would also ring more true than this tale about oppression of the English by the wicked Scots.

For Jake and Tory Solicitor.

Firstly, as I have said before, every single Scottish Poll taken says that Scots believe in EVFEL. Every single one - so there is still animosity is about Scotland, even when we agree.

Secondly, Jake, you talk about anti-English Scots. I have never met a single Scot who has ever been to England and not been abused because of their nationality at least once. Does that influence my views on England as a nation? Not in the slightest.

Thirdly, you are confusing to ideas of the union to suit your argument:

It seems you want England to be in control of all her own affairs? For England to control every single issue that affects England? To decide by itself, and for itself, every aspect of English life?

Agree? Yes?

If that is the case then you must allow Scotland the same rights. Scotland must be able to control all economic decisions. All immigration to Scotland. All aspects of Nuclear arms on Scotland. All defence policy.

Agree? No?

Either the nations are treated equally in a federal UK or through independence or England controls the UK except for a political anomaly that both the English and Scottish people want gone. It's your choice: either England is the boss or England is just an equal.

Tory Solicitor:

Take war/the economy/immigration/defence/ social security/pensions etc. How do you explain to someone in Edinburgh that their child must pay for a change in the policy of war/the economy/immigration/defence/social security/pensions etc when Scotland does not vote for it and England does? How do you justify that one nation overrides another?

At least if we had a federal UK or independent England and Scotland we could say it was a democratic decision.

but scottish MPs do and would have an equal vote on those matters which are not devolved to the Scottish parliament.

It would not be a case of one nation overriding another on those matters.

After all, there is no constitutional complaint about new labour getting through legislation with the support of Scottish MPs when the legislation concerns non-devolved matters

Tory Solicitor

This is the great blindness that (and I think understandably) affects England at present. England controls so much that it forgets this. When something is outwith it's power it shrieks for equality for the English nation to control all it's own affairs when it does not offer it to others.

You cannot have it both ways. Either England can (like the other nations) have some legislation decided against it's own will as a single body, or those nations are equal and any decision affecting them must be voted in by them only.

Be honest with yourself. What you want is for England to control all it's own internal affairs, some Scottish matters and all UK-wide matters, but for Scotland to control nothing UK-wide and only some Scottish-only affairs like transport and education which has been Scottish only anyway.

You want fairness and equality only when it suits England. This is the way it has always been - Scots accept this - but don't ask for England to decide for itself and only itself on all matters and then the others ask the same.

If England is one unitary body, then so are the others and equality ensues. One nation, unlike the present, can then no longer decide on any UK-wide matter without the consent of the other.

For Dulouz.
When I used the phrase
"England must recover control of her affairs"

I meant that England should have the same control over our affairs as the Scots over their affairs via the Scottish parliament .
Just that . There would still be some areas which all the country parliaments of the United Kingdom would allow to the British parliament eg defence , fisheries , foreign policy . I cannot see what the great problem is with this arrangement since it is the type of federal arrangemnet which many states across the would have eg Autralia , Canada , not forgetting India - all closely connected with the British historically .

I am well aware that the idea of a separate parliament for England has quite a lot of support in Scotland - quite alot of support there also for regionalisation and therefore nuetralisation of England .


You say:

"I am well aware that the idea of a separate parliament for England has quite a lot of support in Scotland - quite alot of support there also for regionalisation and therefore nuetralisation of England.

So if Scots support an English Parliament it is because they support the "nuetralisation of England" and if they don't they are anti-English?

That seems the classic double-bind to me and speaks volumes.

As for "England should have the same control over our affairs as the Scots over their affairs via the Scottish parliament," I have yet to meet a single Scot who disagrees, so what is the anti-Scottish fuss about?

Also if there is an English Parliament who decides policy if the English and Scottish Parliaments disagree? Will the English suddenly transform into British?

Many of the points raised above can be covered by a federal system where by the nations decide domestic issues. I think a lot of the bad feeling would subside then and we'd have more equality.

I also think there is a risk that the EU is being discussed too much here. I'm not convinced there is a strong link between the issues.

The other problem with unionism is that I believe it only became part of the party's identity with the Northern Ireland issue and I'd be very surprised if more than a quarter of the mainland population feel strongly that NI should stay part of the UK. As the NI Tories are a relatively small entity it is not something we want to tie ourselves in knots with for the other three nations.

Is the current union doomed? maybe, maybe not, but evolving it into a federal system of parliaments can actually strengthen the union. We mustn't be too reactionary to suggest any change will damage the union.


My take on Jake's comment is that its regionalisation that would neutralise England. Many Scots politicians and many others who are concerned about the Union think an English parliament would be all powerful, pushing Scots, Welsh & Irish concerns within the UK parliament to the edge.The obvious answer is to break England up so the regions & nations are equivalent - but the English aren't keen.

I think its important that we do have a strong UK parliament & government covering those common areas not devolved - immigration, taxation, defense, trade, human rights etc. If Scots or Welsh or English disagree about Education or Health - so what?

The present situation is confusing (Ming keeps asking about CIA flights in Scotland when his party hold the Scots ministry that could answer the question, Gordon Brown seems to think he has a role in setting toll fees) as the UK Parliament manages UK and English/English & Welsh/English & Welsh & Northern Irish/Northern Irish matters.

Perhaps as Tory Bunny suggests we grasp the nettle and create the UK Government & Parliament. National (and maybe regional) representation could be bolstered in the HoL by giving greater representation to the non-English nations?

Tory Bunny,

EU instructions faxed through to Holyrood direct, rather than via London, are still EU instructions! And the same would be true if there was an English Parliament, or if there were elected Regional Assemblies in England. In fact as far as the EU is concerned Scotland is just a European Region, and the Scottish Parliament is equivalent to a Regional Assembly.

The Scots should also understand that there is no guarantee that Scotland would always remain intact as a single European Region. In the long term it could be split up into two or more Regions, just like England, or parts of Scotland near the border could be combined with parts of the North East England Region, and other parts could be linked with Ireland, as seems most suitable to Brussels and if they can get away with doing it.

It's worth having a scout round the website of the Committee of the Regions:


and seeing the scope of both their current activities and their ambitions. From the other side, this is the Europe section of the website of the Scottish Executive:


You are confusing the various levels of power. All people like me who support a federal parliament are asking for is the same rights for England to decide its education and health policy without interference from other parts of the UK, which have quite different political presuppositions to England. As this is allowed to Scotland, it is only fair that it is extended to England (and Wales and NI) too.
What is new about your most recent post above is that you see a joint decision on the economy, defence etc as giving power to England - because it is the larger country. These are still joint issues even under NuLabour and the people making them are Britons equally. If you see Scotland as losing power by this over a particular Scottish view of foreign policy (sucking up to France perhaps has been traditional) then you are arguing that Scotland must be wholly independent. I used to be a unionist but the current constitution is so skewed against England that I am no longer cowed by this constant threatened subtext from the Scots. If the Scots believe they would be better off out then that is their choice. England must have the right to choose whether it would be better off out too. We need a referendum in England as soon as possible after the next general election and let the people decide.


It is you who are confusing issues.

You talk about England as a separate nation on internal issues and then morph England into the UK on foreign policy or the economy, completely forgetting it is the same people in control of both. It is because England controls things through the UK Parliament that it does not have a Parliament called the English Parliament.

This is because a federal UK must mean that there is a Parliament or body above the English and Scottish Parliaments that will no longer be dominated by England. England would be weaker in a federal UK or through independence. By having separate Parliament we therefore state that both Scotland and England are nations. By default one could not dominate the other. They would have to work together thereby increasing the power of the Scottish body politic. In independence this island is forever controlled by both England and Scotland and not England alone at present. Why can't you see this?

And before you think I am against an English Parliament - I am not. Like the majority of Scots (maybe not the majority of Scottish Tories) I would welcome a federal UK. To me it would be the culmination of what the Union of nations was supposed to be other than an English controlled one. If it was independence then so be it.

I am just stunned that otherwise intelligent people actually think Britain is not controlled by England in nearly every way.

As for the emotive language of "sucking up" to France. Foreign policy is relative and it is to Scotland's credit that it is still there as a nation. So much so that some English people want to gain independence from Britain as if Scots dominate every walk of life.

If that is true you must give those five million people of Scotland some credit if they dominate fifty million people of England!

Of-course if you object to this and state this is not true, and that England does control Britain then what's the problem?

I am glad you are not against an English parliament Dulouz because I'm starting to think that it's creation is inevitable.I too have been suprised at the strength of feeling on this issue.It is quite clear that the current constitutional mess must be ended soon as it is so patently unfair and I thought English votes on English questions was a good compromise.I can now see some of the difficulties with this and now wonder what future if any the Union has.As a romantic Unionist this makes me sad.

Glad to see that the attempt to turn this thread into yet another anti-Portillo rant has failed. People are actually discussing the interesting issue he raised, rather than attacking his personality. I happen to disagree with him, though. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are stronger together and we shouldn't let ourselves become an English party. However, we clearly do have to look at how the post-devolution settlement works ten years on. This should be done in a conservative way - making the Union work better for everyone and not for party political gain.


Do I assume that with that moniker that you are official. You are certainly very statesmanlike. But unless the Party seizes and creates an argument and makes the political weather then you are more likely to end in the Athenaeum than no 10.
You have seen the explosion this has created with two throwaway remarks from Duncan and Portillo. There is a huge latent anger over this issue and the Party is still scared of tapping it. Over 9 years, we have tried and failed to take office on the conventional energies of health, immigration and the economy. It is time Cameron proved his green credentials and went for an alternative source of political energy.

the Conservatives have a better chance of being in government if Scotland is not part of the affair.

So we smash the constitution for short term political game. I guess that really would be a case of "Heir of Blair".

I am a supporter of an English Parliament, because its the only way to save the union.

There is no point in a union just for the sake of it. What is so sacrosanct. A low tax, low regulation economy is FAR FAR more important than 'preserving the union' (whatever advantages the latter is magically conferring!)

I support the Union - which is easily the greatest combination of nations in history . The British are much greater than the sum of the parts .
There is a problem though - and I hope it is a passing one - that is the deep resentment thrown up by the totally biased and incompetant devolution policy of Bair .

There is only one real way out of this and that is the institution of an English parliamentary body the equivalent of Scotland's and the Union will continue .

I cannot see it lasting for much longer if nothing effective is done .

Well done to Portillo his comment was spot on at last a "politician" has spoken about the unspeakable.
I have long thought Scotland shoud go its own way, they still feel miffed at so much English dominance over the centuries,they still feel they are "the occupied lands" they have massive resentment against the Conservative party whom they see as the very embodyment of so called "English dominance"
Good luck to their coming independence but not until the last drop of Oil is extracted

Scotland contributes tremendously to the United Kingdom and has done ever since the 1707 Union which was a pivotal moment in British history.

As Conservatives, I do not believe that should seek quick fixes which put the Union at risk. Nor should we exploit constitutional imbalances for party reasons.

The Scottish Parliament/Welsh & Northern Ireland Assemblies were an imperfect solution to the unsatisfactory situation prior to 1997. Labour should have foreseen the long-term consequences and given greater consideration to them at the time - as they should also have done over the 'reform' of the House of Lords.

But they were in a hurry and missed the opportunity to do a proper job. What is needed now is a joint and thorough review by all major parties and others outside politics who are committed to the Union. Then we have a good chance of achieving a lasting settlement.

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