The Financial Times: The Union is precious but fragile — help us to preserve it

5 July 2019

By the Marquess of Salisbury

The Constitution Reform Group believes in the importance of preserving the United Kingdom. Enabling clear, dramatic and effective constitutional reform would recover the consent and respect of the electorate, which has become increasingly restive and sceptical.

We came together before the Brexit referendum and come from different political parties and none. We share the view that the fundamental constitutional changes since 1997 lack the coherence needed to ensure the UK’s long-term survival. The strains between Westminster and devolved nations, between those who voted to Leave or Remain, and within the main political parties are reaching breaking point.

A new settlement is needed, and we want to start the debate with our act of union bill. It proposes a more federal structure for the UK. For England we offer either an English parliament or regional devolution. We suggest that the House of Lords could either be radically reformed or abolished. We address the call for a fairer distribution of tax collected by the centre. The changes would come into force only if approved by 65 per cent of votes cast in the UK as a whole, and with a majority in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There is a deep sense of community, belonging and responsibility across the whole of the UK that our current structures of governance do not reflect.The Union is precious and fragile. Our bill is not perfect, but that is why we invite comments and suggestions to improve it from those who like us want to keep the United Kingdom together.

Marquess of Salisbury

You can access the full letter here

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