Our country is divided following the EU referendum. Our response can either entrench or bridge that division.
As our new Prime Minister has said, negotiations with the EU must fulfil the referendum’s mandate to leave the EU. However, our Government should seek to represent our country as a whole, which also means listening to those who voted ‘remain’.
I would be grateful, therefore, if you could ask David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, to give serious consideration to a devolved settlement, with repatriated powers reverting to the nations and regions wherever possible.
Devolution would mean that regions and localities could have their voices heard – whether they voted ‘leave’ or ‘remain’.
The UK Government could conclude a ‘baseline’ agreement with the EU that would fulfil the referendum’s mandate. Building on that baseline, city-regions and nations could retain the option to further integrate, subject to a local public mandate. Those areas could change their relationship with Europe over time if they wished to.
This option could, for example, allow London to be given tariff-free access to the single market and freedom of movement; to retain passporting rights and Euro clearing. Regional immigration visas could allow a region to limit freedom of movement if it wished to. Open borders in Northern Ireland could be maintained. EU contributions could be regionalised; EU funding is already awarded regionally.
This would be a significant change to our country’s democratic structures as well as EU processes. But it would be a natural progression from the current policy of devolving decision-making to city-regions and nations.
Removing the UK from the EU will be complex. However it is done, it will involve breaking new ground both for the UK and the EU.
Devolution is possibly the only policy response to the referendum that can keep our country together. It could satisfy the different interests of both those areas which voted ‘leave’ and those which voted ‘remain’.
Our politicians must face up to the challenge of leading a divided country. In so doing, our Government must give effect to both leave and remain voices.
We need to consider radical solutions in order to bring the country together and maintain a United Kingdom. Devolution as a response to the EU referendum must be pursued as a serious option.
I look forward to hearing from you.