David Cameron has announced that plans will be brought forward to create a constitutional “settlement” for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by January. He also said that all the promises of new powers for Holyrood made during the Scottish referendum campaign would be honoured.
Speaking before the final results had even been announced this morning the Prime Minister said the people of Scotland had spoken and the result was clear. He went on to say that he was delighted “they have kept our country of four nations together” but pledged to take notice of the message sent by the large number of people who voted for independence.
Earlier on in the campaign Better Together had been expected to win by a huge margin but as 18th September neared the polls tightened. Westminster was sent into virtual meltdown when some polls even put the yes side ahead. This led to a raft of promises, including the retention of the Barnett Formula, on which basis funding for Scotland is calculated.
The formula is extremely generous to Scotland and allocates £1600 a year more per head to Scotland than England. For years politicians have called for an end to the formula, even its creator Lord Barnett admits it was a mistake. However, it now looks like the Barnett formula is here to stay after its retention was promised in the campaign by Gordon Brown. This has prompted concerns that promises were made with too little thought of the consequences.
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The people of Scotland have spoken, but in their last-ditch attempt to save the Union politicians have also saved the unfair Barnett Formula.
“It is outdated and has spectacularly failed to address the extremely inequitable situation of taxpayers from one home nation heavily subsidising others. English taxpayers want an end to subsidising Scotland and the Scottish Government wants financial control devolved to Holyrood, so now is the ideal time to abolish the Barnett Formula entirely.”
This morning David Cameron confirmed that he would honour all of the commitments made in the campaign and would also seek to bar Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs from voting on English issues. This would come a part of a wider package of reforms to the way each of the home nations is dealt with.
Cameron said: “So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together and to move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement, fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well.”
He also said that this referendum had resolved the question of Scottish independence for this generation. After the votes were counted the ‘no’ side won the referendum convincingly with 2,001,926 votes (55.3%) to 1,617,989 for yes (44.7%). But a number of areas, including Glasgow, did vote for independence.