Claire Perry, Rail Minister for the British government, has warned the Prime Minister not to give Scotland ‘financial party bags’ if the country votes ‘no’ today. The normally ultra-loyal minister said that she was concerned that, in the event of a close ‘no’ vote, Scotland would be offered a “raft of goodies” that would be funded by English voters, something that would stir resentment south of the border.
Writing for her local Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, the minister said: “The funding formula for Scotland, the rather cobbled together Barnett formula, already delivers per capita funding north of the border well in excess of that spent per head in the other parts of the union, and if there is a proposal to allow devolution of local taxation, as well maintaining the current level of funding as a dollop from the UK parliament, then that can hardly be equitable for those of us in the Devizes constituency and all other areas in the non-Scottish union.
“Cool, calm analysis, not promises of financial party bags to appease Mr Salmond, are what is needed from tomorrow and onwards, but either way I am expecting Parliament to be recalled next week to understand the result and any proposed settlement.”
Ms Perry’s intervention comes amid growing concern on the Conservative benches that the promise of more powers for Scotland if it votes no, hastily agreed by the leaders of the three main UK parties, may lead to resentment in the rest of Britain.
They are increasingly angry at the so-called ‘Barnet Formula’ which is used to allocate UK funds to the different constituent countries of the UK, believing that it unfairly favours Scotland over England.
James Gray, former Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “Talk about feeding an addiction. The more you give them, the more they want, and we would be back with calls for independence within a decade or sooner.
“For too long the rights of 55 million English have been subordinated to the shouting of 4.5 million Scots. That must end.”
Fellow Conservative Anne Marie Morris backed Claire Perry’s view on Twitter:
Colleague @claire4devizes right on ‘devo max’ – policy not thought through & is concerning many of my constituents who feel it is unfair.
— Anne Marie Morris MP (@AMMorrisMP) September 18, 2014
The final referendum result is expected tomorrow morning.