How should the UK government handle Devolved government?

I opposed the creation of a devolved Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly when Labour offered its second referendum on these matters in 1997, as did the Conservative party as a whole. I accepted the result fully, even though the Welsh one was very narrow. Since that day I have never asked for another referendum to test opinion again, and have always supported co-operating properly with the devolved bodies.

I have not felt the need to change some of the arguments I put at the time. For example, I argued that setting up these bodies would not create a happily united UK in the way Labour envisaged. It was more likely that nationalists in Scotland would use the excellent platform the Scottish Parliament offered them to campaign continuously to move from devolution to separation. This has predictably come to pass. Not even a full and fair referendum to ask the question did Scotland wish to be independent was sufficient to restore peace on this issue, as the SNP unlike Conservatives never accept the result of a referendum when it goes against them. Today in Parliament every debate on whatever matters is another debate on Scottish independence as far as the SNP is concerned.

Today we see the results of managing the CV 19 response when the devolved authorities of Scotland, Wales and some City Mayors wish to be involved and wish to differentiate what they do. We get mixed messages, public disputes, selective leaks of privileged conversations and variable responses around the UK. I think a good case can be made for more local decision taking on this issue. After all the virus spreads at very different rates and at different times around the country. Hospital admission needs and death rates are very variable. Local circumstances over testing, hospital capacity and Care home management are different.

This argues for a two tier approach. The national government should provide a menu of powers and national advice on the best medical, scientific and economic response to the crisis. The national government and Parliament can decline powers that are thought to be too damaging and unhelpful. Devolved authorities should be free to select from the menu of special powers and responses what they wish to impose in their areas. The U.K. Parliament needs to press harder for a plan which does less economic damage than the current one.

Trying to do it by collaboration is more difficult, as this blurs responsibility and allows devolved authorities to play politics with a national crisis. The SNP government is said to have selectively leaked confidential information about possible future options before a common position was agreed or announced. They also spent the first part of the pandemic setting slightly tougher rules in Scotland, claiming this would allow Scotland to be virus free whilst England would suffer from being too lax. It did not turn out like that, with the Scottish government now needing to explain why their different approach did not produce better results.

Today why not let devolved authorities decide what they should do about rising case rates. They do not seem to like the national government telling them how to organise their pubs and restaurants, and they want to be more responsible for track and trace in their areas. If a Council or devolved assembly wished it could ask the national government to take responsibility for it. Otherwise the government will need to be firmer with sending plans to local and devolved government that they just need to implement as agents of central government.

The best argument against local differentiation is the variety of rules that will apply. The best argument in favour is many areas of the country will not need the heavy handed lock down the government’s advisers think necessary for areas with a high incidence of the pandemic.

(In the 1979 referendum Welsh voters rejected devolution by a massive 4 to 1 margin. In 1997 they voted 50.3% Yes on a 51.3% turnout, with a majority of just 6721 votes for devolution)

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  1. Adam
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    The Devolved Governance is like having a brain making decisions but having to deal with a left arm and lower leg deciding to go some other way round the back.

    The ugly growth on both should be removed enabling the body to regain optimum health and fitness in freedom and enjoyment.

    • Hope
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Simple: get rid of it. get rid of Mayors and get rid of police commissioners. It all adds huge cost to the taxpayer without anything in return.

      Politicos should grow up ad act on the wishes fo the public.

      A pay cut for MPs is drastically required. 2009 dishonest fiddling should have led to reform as promised not incrementally increase pay to stop MPs thieving! Yes we did notice and yes we still want change to reduce numbers and pay.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

        We need to equalise average pay and pensions between the circa 20% state sector sector (8% would be more than enough) and the 80% private sector. Last time I looked they were about 50% over paid with pensions were included. Plus they get 100% of Covid Pay rather than 80% and/or redundancy!

    • Peter
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Meanwhile, Boris Johnson still cannot bring himself to say ‘Goodbye’ and walk away from further Brexit talks.

      True, he has said prepare for ‘No Deal’ – but his reluctance to just go speaks volumes.

      Maybe Boris is playing for time too? Waiting for something to save face without going on WTO terms.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

        He has said goodbye!

        • Hope
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          No he made it clear he might walk if the EU does not change its stance. He said this three times before!

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        If only we had done real clean Brexit many years back then we would now be in a far better position. The idiotic, inepts and dishonest D Cameron and T May have cost the tax payers a fortune for absolutely nothing of the past years. Cameron should have left when he got is pathetic thin gruel or at the very least should have done as he promised/lied that he would deliver the notice next day and just have leave – instead of abandonning ship like a spoilt brat.

        Theresa 9% support May deserves complete and utter contempt. She even (very nearly) gave us Corbyn/SNP plus she gives us her insane Carbon agenda. Opt out organ donation perhaps her only positive.

    • Sam Duncan
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes. The 21-year experiment has failed. As Sir John says, it hasn’t delivered the harmony predicted by its advocates, nor (despite the fanaticism and posturing of the nationalists) has it produced a greater sense of “ownership” of governance by the governed: turnout for Holyrood elections, for example, barely averages more than 50%, and a great deal of what was once run at a local level – police, fire services, water – is now centralized in Edinburgh.

      I don’t seriously expect it to be abolished any time soon – it took decades of agitation before it was ever set up – but it’s long past time that those of use who oppose it stopped holding our tongues.

  2. Newmania
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    If Sir John is inferring that to make a major irreversible constitutional change requires more than a paper thin majority I can only agree. If there is consistent evidence that there is no wide support for the change; even more so .If the result is more little men posturing on their Lilliputian stage …well at least we get some entertainment .

    • Fred H
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Anyone finding Mr Blackford’s contribution in the H of C entertainment has my pity.

    • No Longer Anonymous
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      We are not allowed to have stage entertainment.

      The British WW2 spirit was built on stage and in jovial gatherings.

      The Sturgeon tail is wagging the UK dog and it is masked, claustrophobic misery. Well done Blair !

      In many cases I cannot even communicate with my fellow species, 90% of that communication being non-verbal. For a disease which – on average – those with have lived longer than those without.

      Average age of death UK 81. Average age of death with CV-19 82.

  3. Iain Gill
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Yes all good points John. But Andy Burnham is also filling a gap in the UK parliament where none of the main parties have spoken up for the gaps in support like freelancers Andy has done just that. It’s not just variety of political views we should be listening to, but also variety of scientific opinion. where is the model of the numbers who will die from conditions the NHS is ignoring on the altar of covid? Where is the model of the health problems all the new poverty will cause? We are destroying the wealth creating parts of the economy, the part that pays for the public sector which is staying at home on full pay.

    • Simeon
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      One of Burnham’s points was that Westminster were trying to force Manchester to do something they knew wouldn’t work, in the opinion of their own scientific advisers. I listened to his speech yesterday. At bottom, he is utterly wrong in his position that the virus needs to managed by the state. But in the context of speaking up for his region and defending their interests, and revealing what an absurd and moronic approach the government are taking, he was very good.

      More interesting was the reaction from the public, a large proportion of whom seemed to support the government’s policy of imposing impoverishment on Manchester, justifying that with this notion that the local population had brought it on themselves. I wonder what these same people will be thinking when their local areas wind up in Tier Three? Perhaps these people are, at least for the moment, insulated from the economic and social consequences of lockdown, and so have no awareness of the serious harm being done.

      This government is utterly shambolic and indefensible. Sir John, to give him credit, has attempted to defend the government in a rather clever way today. But defending the indefensible, no matter how ingeniously, is never wise. The Local Authorities, for very good reasons, do not have the wherewithal financially to go it alone, even if they wanted to, because it is the Chancellor who holds the purse strings. The key point is that it is Westminster, led by the government, that have made, and continue to make, an almighty mess of things, which of course is the truth Sir John is attempting to distract from.

      Reply I am not defending the government but analysing the problems created by devolution.

      • Simeon
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 6:54 am | Permalink

        Devolution, together with Westminster incompetence, was always a recipe for uncertainty and injustice, and a boon for independence movements. Your analysis is fine. But the occasion of it is an obvious attempt to deflect from the incompetence of the government.

        However, this judgement conforms to the old paradigm. The new paradigm, in which we see the PM resolving apparently intractable problems in the style of a Nobel mathematician, or even Arnie the Terminator, demands that we see government policy for what it really is; an ingenious and perfectly callibrated response to a crisis that our Glorious Leader will gloriously overcome. Have faith!

    • MPC
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      And where is the truly convincing rationale for the government’s latest edicts? I am reliably hearing that most (intelligent) young people in London are going to ignore the new rules there out of utter disillusionment.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        and your instant poll of intelligent young people was conducted how, and by whom. Utter nonsense.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      They are being paid to support the govt bonkers policy on Covid.
      What would have happened if NONE had been paid?
      My solicitor, a one man band, who I believe did not get paid….worked others would have had to without taxpayers money.
      And now it would all be over.

    • Ian @Barkham
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Andy Burnham (ex Labour MP) is saying Government should offload more Government money.

      That’s the flaw in the system perpetuated stupidly by this Government. Government just does not at any time have money. It has access to taxpayers pockets that is all.

      If Labour(Andy Burnham) was to suggest all their government local/national stay at home fulltime workers should take a pay cut to be redistributed to those laid of against their will, you could have more respect for their position.

    • majorfrustration
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Save the NHS yet again but crash the economy

    • Hope
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      The public did not want mayors they are no value whatsoever. The same for police commissioners. Your party forced them not he nation to comply and create the illusion of democracy while being controlled, governed and led by EU. it is apparent none of those in govt can make a decision after following for so long.

      Head of civil service wrote N.Ireland PD, hardly instills confidence does it!

    • cornishstu
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Models are only as good as the data used, it is becoming quite apparent that the assumptions in the modelling used by SAGE is the cause of the of pain being inflicted unnecessarily on the country, when eminent immunologists etc from around the world are all saying the same thing then you would hope that those calling the shots would sit up and take heed instead we have Hancock who doesn’t know the difference between a parasite and a virus dismissing them as if they were a lay person. Interesting article over at

  4. Len Peel
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:41 am | Permalink

    So your message to the Scots and Welsh is “I am Sir John Redwood, and I know what’s good for you, so kindly pipe down and do what London instructs”.
    You are doing the SNP and Plaid’s job for them

    Reply I said no such thing

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:57 am | Permalink

      Unless Wales implements a second shutdown then each devolved country has followed the same measures, just at different times.

      Sir John’s suggestion of a menu merely apes this trend so your post is more than a little unfair and inaccurate.

      Don’t ignore that the devolved administrations expect the whole UK to pay for their more extreme implementation so it would not be unreasonable for us to take the parental tone and say what I pay for I have a say in.

    • Richard1
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      What a silly post. It says the opposite. Read it again.

    • NickC
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      Len P, I think JR’s point was that the total votes cast in the Welsh referendum were only a fraction above 50% (50.2%), and the result itself was very close 50.3% vs 49.7% which was hardly a ringing endorsement for such a momentous change of the whole structure of the UK. It’s not some trivial trade deal, after all.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        …and then there were the last minute boxes of postal ballots (Which should have been counted first) overwhelmingly in favour, and the rigged question (yes always has an advantage over no) – I know, I was there.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      All the nine regions of England (other than the North East) have larger populations or or similar ones to Scotland. So why this obscesion with the endless whinging of the Scots and the Welsh? Devolution was a disaster in the making for all but parasitic bureaucrats and politicians and was also hugely unfair to the English.

    • graham1946
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:01 am | Permalink

      Remoaners are always so damned rude. It’s like a disease with them. They just cannot seem to make a point without personal insults. Disgraceful.

  5. SM
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    No system of government or alliance is ever going to be perfect, simply because large numbers of people and politicians actually seem to love constant conflict (perhaps I’m feeling very sour because I’m currently reading a History of Russia and a history of the downfall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

    In my ideal world, Ireland would be re-united and independent of the UK; Scotland would be completely independent (no more subsidies, no joint currency, no reps in Westminster, perhaps no monarch etc), and Wales would have to face the fact that it could never manage, economically, to be anything other than a respected Principality under the protection of England.

    • rose
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      Ulster never was united with the South, so reunited is the wrong word.

      How about reuniting the British Isles? It makes much more sense than leaving Southern Ireland behind in the EU to face the bullying, without us to stand up for her as we always have (on matters such as tax). We have always come to their rescue, not the EU. We went into the EU on the same day, stayed out of Schengen at the same time, and should have come out together, but the political class in both countries didn’t understand where things were going.

      • Peter
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        ‘Ulster never was united with the South, so reunited is the wrong word.’

        ‘The South’ is the wrong words.

        It is the Irish Republic.

        Demographics will change the nature of Northern Ireland. Unionists will be outnumbered. So, in due course, there will be two similar nations on the island of Ireland. That said, the nationalist majority might, by that stage, prefer things to remain as they are. They will have a political majority, so can call the shots to suit their needs. Gerrymandering, second class citizenship etc will be history.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        Of course Ulster was United with the south. The whole thing was part of the U.K. Then the Protestants were driven out of Munster to Ulster (the other protestant haven, and Catholic Leinster and Connaught with Munster demanded independence (while retaining all the advantages of U.K. citizenship).

        • Peter
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:34 pm | Permalink


    • Peter Wood
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:58 am | Permalink

      If Scotland became fully independent, without any financial recourse to England, it too would be broke in months. Most of its industries would move south of the border to keep their markets.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Perhaps no monarch?! How on earth would they manage without a monarch, their castles and their ‘ownership’ of vast swathes of land.

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      + 1. All three are a drain on the English taxpayer. They get on average £2,000 per head more spent on than the English despite England being the only net contributor. No wonder they can offer free or heavily subsidised tuition fees, free prescriptions, free hospital parking, all denied to England on grounds of cost. Scotland even has free dental checks, eye tests and personal care for the elderly. Johnson talks about levelling up but there’s no chance he means levelling up England’s expenditure to that of the devolved nations. Despite the Tories relying on England for their votes, they treat us with utter contempt both financially and constitutionally.

      The English are beginning to wake up to the blatant discrimination shown to their young, their sick and their elderly. The only solution now is for either Scotland, Wales & NI to go their own way or England gets it’s own parliament too. Of course that would mean a huge cull in the number of UK MPs so our self serving politicians are never going to allow that to happen. Better just to carry on ignoring England but what the idiots either don’t realise or deliberately choose to ignore is that resentment is growing.

      Next time the Scots get yet another vote (England has never been offered one except on Mayors which they rejected but still had them imposed on them anyway) we English must be included too. After all it’s our union as well. They’ll soon get their wish if that happens.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      Wha0t makes you think Ireland and Scotland are better placed than Wales to ‘go it alone’? We provide all the benefits of British citizenship to the citizens of the Republic of Ireland, we bailed out The Irish and Scottish banking systems in 2008 to save them from destitution. We provide the majority of their trade and we subsidise both substantially (Ireland via the EU).

      • ChrisS
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        We do subsidise NI to the tune of almost £10bn a year.
        This is more than £5,000 per head of population.

        However, we do not subsidise Eire as since at least 2017 they are a net contributor to the EU budget.

    • ChrisS
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      SM, you have made great suggestions I agree with entirely.

      I have recently read the history of the Habsburg Monarchy by the late, great AJP Taylor and the fall of Austro-Hungarian Empire is a poignant lesson.

      As for the UK, it would be far better for Ireland to be united within the EU. Despite the rhetoric, whether Eire can actually afford to take on NI, is a case in point.

      Wales is a basket case which England has no choice but to subsidise indefinitely but at least most Welsh people don’t constantly blame and insult the English.

      As for Scotland, The Westminster Government could lavish double the £11bn pa by which English taxpayers subsidise Scotland but it would make no difference to the Nationalists who want separation at any price. Blair’s lopsided devolution settlement just gave them the platform they wanted.

      Let them have their second referendum but the Remain choice has to sort out Scottish finances : to retain the devolved assembly with control over expenditure, they need to raise all their money within Scotland.

      • SM
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        I’m reading The Fall of the House of Habsburg by Edward Crankshaw, similar vintage to A J Taylor’s but apparently a rather different attitude in apportioning cause and effect than AJT’s. It’s demanding but fascinating.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        Oh WOW! AJP Taylor indeed.
        My history teacher used to mention him, seemed like every lesson, probably ran his fan club! This was late 50s, early 60s.

    • beresford
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      …remembering of course that Ireland was never united in the first place. The Normans invaded in response to a request by a deposed king of part of Ireland to be restored to his position.

      • Lynn Atkinson
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        +1 and that the Scots came from Ireland.

  6. Mark B
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    The response to this made up pandemic has been a political one, and not a health one. All political parties have used it as a means to further their own agendas at the expense of the population and the economy. Shame on you ALL !!!

    When it comes to referendums, something which I am very much in favour of, I think it is long overdues that England should have a referendum on whether or not it too can have its own devolved government. We we in London were not given the choice whether we wanted a Mayor and an assembly, but those in the North were and rejected it, only to have the Tories impose it upon them anyway.

    This country is yearning for strong but patriotic leadership. When you have those who lived through Mrs. T’s years and both her predecessors and successors, and wish for someone like her back in office, you know you’re in trouble.

    Devolved assemblies will be the death of the Union and personally, it cannot come too soon.

    • SM
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      Sorry Mark, but there WAS a referendum on whether to have a London-wide Mayor, the turn out was very poor, and the majority in favour was slim.

      • Mark B
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 6:28 am | Permalink


        Well they kept it quiet. So quiet I never knew. Hence the low turnout.

  7. The Prangwizard
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Dodging the issue of England as usual. ‘

    Speaking for England?

    It is clear that as there is no voice for England as a unity it is being allowed to and being encouraged to disintegrate through internal devolution.

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:32 pm | Permalink


    • Fred H
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Whisper for England, sometimes.

    • glen cullen
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      Agree +1

    • Mark B
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      If the English were given a voice it would not be to their liking.

  8. BW
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    The SNP will continue to work with enemies of the U.K. at every level to destroy the Union, stabbing the U.K. in the back at every opportunity. They despise the English to the extent that they would rather destroy a very successful 300 year union and then give their powers over to an unsuccessful and doomed EU. Something I will never understand. It will never end. If they lose a second referendum they will want another. So we need to show the nationalist for what they really are and represent by sound argument to win support for the UK. Once Brexit has been fully delivered, provided we do get our sovereignty back in full perhaps we can then show what the U.K. can do as a team before the SNP shoot themselves and the U.K. in the foot.

  9. Ian Wragg
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    It’s time we had a referendum to see if the rest of Britain want the whining Scots to be part of the union.
    I for one am sick of seeing the face of wee kranckie on television berating the government when they are so generously treated by the English taxpayer and make such a mess of running Scotland.

    • Old Salt
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      Anyone would think ‘wee kranckie’ was running the country with the amount of TV coverage.

      The SNP has only one obvious goal irrespective of the consequences.

      They seem to have more to say on our governance than the rest of us has on theirs by far and we pay them handsomely.

      Perhaps someone could suggest what percentage of the electorate the SNP represents.

    • Old Salt
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      The SNP would appear to be doing the EU a favour in breaking up what was the UK.
      Re the cosy chats with the EU.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      Those sorts of referendums would be interesting, certainly.

      I mean, the Government could ask the rest of the UK whether its people want Essex, say, or Yorkshire, couldn’t it? Or Ashfield, for that matter?

  10. Dave Andrews
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    If I were a Scot, having got rid of the EU I’d be looking to be rid of another tier of government telling me what to do. I say, get rid of the Scottish Parliament and return its duties to central or local government.
    If the Scots wish to chance their arm with independence, I wish them well, but can the SNP put together a proper plan of how they will do it, rather than find out after a referendum they haven’t a clue as to what to do next?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Lots of Scots are of that opinion.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Then they need to speak up!

  11. Andy
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Devolved government has been a huge success,

    I don’t much like Arlene Foster but along with Michelle O’Neill she has proved highly adept in looking after the interests of the people of NI during this crisis. She has understood the need in some circumstances for an all Ireland approach. Ironic.

    Nicola Sturgeon has been a star. Scots have looked to her and she has delivered clear leadership. When she has made mistakes she has said so.

    Mr Burnham is absolutely right to stand up for the people of Manchester. The government wants to order their businesses to close down but is not adequately compensating people for doing so.

    The leadership of these people contrasts starkly with the uselessness of the blithering idiot in Number 10. Nobody wanted he to fail over the pandemic but he has. For the sake of the country the men in grey suits need to put him out of his misery.

    • DavidJ
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      I think you are living in a different country from the one that I inhabit.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        Inside his head it IS a totally different country!

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Well you like the ‘devolved Governments‘ in the EU as well don’t you? I mean you think Mutti and Macron do quite well?

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Andy no suprise over your post today. Why don’t you move into Scotland then you could help them stay in the EU and help raise the finances to keep them afloat. Good luck with that. If you’re English they won’t want to know.

  12. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    It is not the existence of devolved government which creates disharmony in the UK.

    It is mainly the fact of the Scottish independence referendum having been won by unionists on the basis of a so-called Tory “Pledge”, but which was torn up before the last votes were even counted.

    Had it been honoured, then at the very least Scotland – and the other Nations – would have had a proper say on the terms of holding, and on the response to the result of the one on the European Union.

    • Edward2
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      The 2016 referendum was for the whole of the UK.
      The rules were published and well known.

      The UK voted to leave the EU.
      Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.

      • margaret howard
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink


        The Scottish independence referendum was held BEFORE the disastrous Brexit referendum in which Scotland voted overwhelmingly Remain.

        All polls now show that the Scot want their independence. Can you blame them with the shambles that is the Boris government?

        • rose
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

          More Scots in Scotland voted for Brexit than voted for the Scottish National Socialists.

        • Edward2
          Posted October 18, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          A once in a generation referendum the SNP promised.

          Brexit vote is irrelevant.
          The SNP began their next campaign immediately after the independence reesult was announced.

  13. oldtimer
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    I welcome the revolt against the lockdown rules, whether national or local, and the “rule” of the not so sage SAGE. I suggest its members should be paid the allowances agreed by the Chancellor for people on furlough. It should not take long to calculate their entitlements, backdated to the first lockdown, to replace their comfortable salaries (many no doubt funded directly or indirectly by the taxpayer). That should provide a tidy refund to the Treasury.

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Totally agree oldtimer. But not just Sage. The whole public sector, politicians included should be subject to the same terms as the Chancellor has inflicted on the private sector.

  14. Alan Jutson
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    All good points JR but if the government does what you suggest and devolves some choices to local area government, then Boris should make it absolutely clear to everyone that the buck stops with them.
    You cannot request power, get it, then devolve responsibility which is the game many are playing at the moment.

    Local areas should remember that there is a national budget within which they will have to work, the taxpayer cannot fund forever every job and every business, that is simply impossible.

    Local leaders need to remember that when the local hospitals fill up with patients, many will get little treatment at all, for any ailment.

    Perhaps the one good thing about having differing policies in different areas is we may all find out which policy actually works best, and more quickly.

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      “the taxpayer cannot fund forever every job and every business, that is simply impossible.“

      But it seems they can fund every job in the over bloated public sector who aren’t seeing any cuts in their pay or worrying about losing their jobs. Hancock, Starmer, Whitney, all demanding lockdowns. Of course they won’t be affected. Time to cull the public sector and no better place to start than parliament. Why on earth do we need 650 MPs especially when 117 of them have most of their responsibilities to their constituents offloaded to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Stormont. Oh I forgot, we need them to carry on interfering and voting on matters which only relate to England to justify their existence aided and abetted by 550 something UK MPs with English seats who couldn’t care less about this injustice to their constituents.

      • Alan Jutson
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink


        Certainly agree many working for the taxpayer/government funded departments always seem to be well protected financially.

        Those who always seem to lose out the most, tend to be the self employed and private business owners.

  15. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Offer each country the same money per head.

    Give them full tax raising powers.

    Give England a Parliament

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Allow each nation to borrow in its own name but make it clear they are not necessarily backed by the UK if they can’t pay it back.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      NO ENGLISH PARLIAMENT. in doing that you bin the U.K. and it’s constitution which has saved us.

      • Mark B
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 7:34 am | Permalink


        So everyone else can have a parliament, even those who wish to bin the UK yet, the English are denied one even though many are still in favour of this lopsided arrangement.

        I find that odd.

        • JoolsB
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

          I agree with you Mark. I say if having an English Parliament means binning the UK then so be it. It seems to be of benefit to everyone except the English anyway.

  16. Andy
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I have some scenario questions for all of those of you who are planning to just ‘walk away’ from EU trade talks.

    A British cancer researcher, who travels to Germany once every three months for a week to collaborate face to face with her German colleagues, does so under what basis from January? She is not a tourist, so is going there to work. Free movement has gone. What sort of visa will she need and who will pay?

    A British architect has been working on projects in Italy. His degree, from a UK university, along with his professional qualifications, will no longer be recognised. On what basis will he continue to be able to carry out his work?

    A British haulier regularly takes loads to Portugal, via stops in France and Spain. On what basis can his work continue from January with the end to cabotage as we know it?

    Stuck in your white utopia we want it to be the 1950s bubble none of these questions have even crossed your minds. The collective dinghy obsession has warped your thinking. So it really is time for some answers and for some honest. Your cost free Brexit has never existed. It is time for you all now to be honest to the British public about what you are taking from them. I won’t hold my breath.

    • Fred H
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      all seem to be an individual issue to me – – they all took place prior to EU anyway.

      On the subject of holding your breath, why would we care?

      • Fred H
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Andy and Martin get full coverage?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      Why will she need a visa? Never needed a visa before the EU.

    • beresford
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      How do other countries manage these things, Andy? They have common sense reciprocal agreements with the EU. None of these agreements involve giving the EU their territorial waters or letting the EU determine their industrial policy. We are (hopefully) walking away because the EU doesn’t want a trade deal (even with a 39 million euro bribe) and is just playing us like a fish on the end of a line. Yes I agree that our politicians haven’t been entirely honest with the public in not saying that there will be some short term pain involved, but freedom rarely comes cheaply and there is no reason to suppose that in the long term we won’t be fine.

    • Edward2
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      You forget the reverse is true.

      That is why these simple things will be sorted out between the UK and the EU.

      Unless you are saying our friends in the EU want to be deliberately awkward towards the UK.
      They wouldn’t do that to us would they Andy?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Your examples are only three, among the countless spheres of commercial and professional engagement between British and European Union people and entities too.

      This shower of reckless incompetents in government, pandering to their lamentable electorate, are leading the country to catastrophe.

      • graham1946
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        ‘Lamentable electorate’

        That excludes the wonderful Mr. Martin in Cardiff I take it who like the great Andy is wrong on most issues.

        • Edward2
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          It is all the UK’s fault says EU fan Martin.
          Everything he says will restrict trade is the deliberate policy of the EU.
          However the greatest loss will be on France and Germany

  17. Everhopeful
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Surely this is just a game that Boris ( being liberal-ridden) is just no good at.
    We all know that when Scotland, Wales, NI say “ Lock them all up and throwaway the key” he will vacillate but ultimately follow meekly. ( For goodness sake wasn’t there talk of and even actual border closures from these EU-adoring people?)
    His instincts at the beginning of all this were completely correct but he does not have the political skill (?) or faith in his own convictions to outwit these devolved parliaments.
    Ultimately it would have been easier to cover up some extra deaths from Covid in the unlikely event of it being worse than suspected… than it will be to cover up the deaths caused by ignoring all healthcare other than Covid!
    And why has he never consulted a wider scientific base? Some of his “advisers” have very shaky backgrounds!

  18. Roy Grainger
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    The problem with devolving decisions to the regional mayors is that they would have power but no financial responsibility, I get the impression that their objection to Tier 3 lockdown is not due to its likely effect on covid but that they won’t be handed enough money by central government as a result – you can’t allow local mayors to take decisions which will result in spending more taxpayer’s money at a national level.

  19. Everhopeful
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Obviously wrongly I always assumed that the devolved parlts. were Blair breaking up the Union in line with EU wishes.
    Surely he must have known what would happen?

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      Quite right.

  20. rose
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    “The best argument in favour is many areas of the country will not need the heavy handed lock down the government’s advisers think necessary for areas with a high incidence of the pandemic.”

    Unfortunately, where we have a left wing authoritarian devocrat, mayor, or council leader, the object will be not to taper the measures to the requirements of the fiefdom, but to get more money.

    On the question of the biggest devocracy, it is noticeable that while the Westminster Scottish National Socialists can only shout and harangue the House about separation, up in Edinburgh, Wee Nicola is doing her best not to mention it. Her appointments are unionist (as the Conservatives’ appointments are left wing), and the separatists are livid with her for holding things up. She is an unscrupulous lawyer like Starmer and will not arrange for her own redundancy. If Scotland were to separate, that would be the end of the Scottish National Socialists.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      😂😂 they would just amalgamate with the European Union National Socialists.

  21. Lifelogic
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    The last thing the UK needed was more politician wasting money and playing politics with taxpayers money rather than serving the people and taking the rubbish away. Plus we had obscene cost of new parliamentry building and new quango offices in Edinburgh and Cardiff.

    Andy Burnham playing politics yesterday was a total disgrace. This daft lefty Fitz English Graduate and ex-tradeunionist is totally wrong on this and I think evil with it. But then most left wing politicians always pushing the politics of envy are. He and Starmer have take the wrong side of the argument in a totally cynical way.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      So “The Countryside” (not people who live there just the countryside I assume) is racist and has to change says a silly BBC Countryfile presenter. “There is a difference between being not racist and being anti-racist” she suggests.

      I think I am both not and very anti-racist (unlike the BBC which prefers flower arranging rather than selection on ability). This as I assume that anyone anti-racist would be veremently anti-quotas and other damaging “positive” discrimination regardless of merit – as practiced endlessly at dire organisations like the BBC and being pushed on to universities etc.

      This as this is by definition very clearly just blatant discrimination on the basis colour, race, gender, sexuality, disablility etc. by dire organisations like the BBC. Just given a different name that fools no one able to think.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        Needs to be retitled DBC.
        Diversity Broadcasting Continuously.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Quotas and postive discrimination also have three negative effects.

        A. people assume (often rightly) that X only got the job for this quota reasons and B by promoting less capable people people start to recognise this and wrongly start to think that this group are less capable. C. You do not get the best people in the job. D it is damages confidence in other capable people who then tend to leave the organisation.

        Cresida Dick endlessly says she want to recruit “the best of the best” but she wants “the Met to reflect London’s diversity”. Alas she does not seem to be able to see the obvious – you cannot logically do both at the same time.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Long interview with Lord Peter Hennessy on World at One. “BBC think” favourite to his lefty core. Thus completely wrong on almost every issue from Covid, to Brexit to, to the North/South politics of envy (pushed by the dire Burnham) to the climate alarmist religion.

      I can assure him that most Northeners want low taxes, a clean Brexit, cheap energy and far less government (and even those that do not would benefit hugely from it).

      • rose
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

        There is no harm or malice in the man now he is old, but as you say, he is plum wrong on everything.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          Indeed a perfectly pleasant chap but just wrong. Perhaps these types think everyone is pleasant and not so self interested as perhaps they are themselves. Were that true perhaps their agenda might make a little more sense.

          My very pleasant father was rather like that.

  22. BJC
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    When devolved government was agreed, it rested on constitutional matters being retained by the UK government, i.e. matters/decisions that affected all four nations. Over the years successive governments have failed to see the importance of this legal requirement and handed over more and more powers until it’s difficult for the government to deny similar powers to them. They have certainly danced to the SNP’s superior propaganda tune and the government have lost control of the “unity”message. We have a situation where the UK government is responsible for raising money while the devolved governments simply spend it on whatever they want (“free” prescriptions, uni fees?) for wholly divisive and/or political purposes, then demand more from an “uncaring” central government. Who wins and who loses every time?

    Your proposal is infinitely sensible, Sir John, and should be in place as a condition of all funding anyway, to keep the devolved governments pulling in the same general direction as the overarching UK government. Is it not fundamental to removing regional inequalities and levelling up the country?

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      “the devolved governments simply spend it on whatever they want (“free” prescriptions, uni fees?) for wholly divisive and/or political purposes, then demand more from an “uncaring” central government. Who wins and who loses every time?”

      That wouldn’t be so bad if the UK Government, John’s Government, didn’t give the devolved nations thousands more per head than theY give the English who are denied the same freebies on grounds of cost. Win win for the devolved nations. Who loses? Well the English of course. But hey as long as the devolved nations are happy is all that matters to the ‘Unionist’ Tories and to hell with England.

  23. Richard1
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    A good idea, anything in fact which gets us out of the current lockdown madness would be a good idea. The challenge with devolving the decision making, as we have seen in Scotland, is the local govts will posture around with lockdowns but then ask the U.K. taxpayer to pick up the bill – as the Scottish separatists are doing.

    Indeed you are correct that devolution was one of many very long term damaging measures of the Blair-Brown Labour govt. it was a disaster for the UK. Moral: don’t vote Labour.

  24. Sakara Gold
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    The trouble with referenda is that they never vote the way you want them to – ask Cameron.

    The government’s inept and incompetent response to the Chinese plague virus crisis is the cause of the current difficulties with the devolved governments. Had Johnson involved them in the Cobra meetings in the beginning – so that the views of the regions could have been considered – some of the very poor decisions may not have been made. Now, unfortunately, the virus response has become highly political as devolved – and local politicians – see an opportuninty to score points.

    As the number of hospital admissions and fatalities inexorably rises, we can expect them to become even more enraged when Hancock spins the figures again and renews his efforts to justify his incompetence

    Johnson would appreciate this quote from the ancient greek philosopher Plato:-

    “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”

    • Fred H
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      was the translation correct? inferiors or liars?

      • Fred H
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

        just asking about translating.

    • Bill B.
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      If Sturgeon’s views were ‘not considered’, well thank goodness for that! The lockdown in England was bad enough already.

      The virus response was never anything else but political. That’s what the SAGE minutes from March make clear, and also as the WHO admitted offair in July to Deborah Cohen, the BBC2 medical correspondent, when she asked about their U-turn on mask-wearing.

    • Lynn Atkinson
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Or the modern version ‘just because you take no interest in politics does not mean that politics will not take an interest in you.’

  25. Sea_Warrior
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The government should make clear to the SNP that if there is second Indyref any part of Scotland rejecting independence will NOT be ceded.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Oh, so London and all our fine great cities should stay in the European Union too then?

  26. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    “Today why not let devolved authorities decide what they should do about rising case rates. ”
    You cannot have local authorities which have little or no financial responsibility for their patches being able to scream for more cash because their areas need to be shut down. If Wales wants to shut itself off geographically, let it shut itself off financially too, and see how that works out. Same with other local areas which seem to think they can lock themselves down and be propped up in perpetuity.

    There again Sir Starmer wants us all to shut ourselves down and bankrupt us all, which is of course worse.

  27. Old Albion
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:31 am | Permalink


    It should give England equality by the creation of an English Parliament with powers equal to those of Scotland and Wales. With a UK federal power for reserved matters.

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:31 pm | Permalink


      • rose
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        But how would you stop them breaking up England into regions, each to be dominated by a left wing devocrat? That has always been the plan, both of the EU and the bureaucrats here, to stop England being Conservative. They would never allow it to be a whole proud country in its own right because they hate it and fear it.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink


  28. George Brooks.
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Andy Burnham is bordering on the edge of blackmail by refusing to comply with tier 3 until the package of support announced very recently is increased for his area of Greater Manchester. He knows very well that with the economy which is under serious strain cannot allow a precedent, that he is demanding, to be set.

    He is demonstrating very clearly the dangers of devolution of power. When it gets too far down the chain of command it loses sight of the bigger picture and damage can by inflicted on the wider community as well as the area of local responsibility.

    Not a clever move Mr Burnham

  29. Arthur Wrightiss
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I don’t think I am alone in hoping Scotland achieves its independence. If there is another referendum in Scotland, there should be a parallel one in the rest of the country to see just how much support Scotland has nation wide. Questions should be regularly asked of the SNP what currency will they introduce, what is Scotland’s share of the National Debt which they must be solely responsible for, what will their financial position be when Barnett is cancelled from day one, will they be building a hard border, do they support Shetland and Orkney independence..etc etc.
    What is preventing MPs and the BBC from vigorously pursuing these important questions and demanding specific answers ?

    • Fred H
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      The Remainers wanted all sorts of questions asked in the EU staying/leaving poll.
      You name many of them – well done.
      Civil Service jobs (there are thousands) would be moved to England.
      Military bases and supply jobs would be moved to England.
      Current preferred status of purchasing from Scotland would cease.
      I suspect tourism would cease from England, it certainly has for a few years from us, relatives come to us.

      • Fred H
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        still waiting..

    • Suzette Burtenshaw
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:45 pm | Permalink


  30. Sharon
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    With regards to the virus, I’m in one of those locked down London suburban boroughs that has ‘a handful’ of patients in the renal and special care units! And I know it’s that because the hospital sent out an urgent memo via the residents association!

    I’m furious!!! It’s so un-necessary and I believe done to appease Saddiq Kahn who really, really does not have London’s best interests at heart!

    I know devolution is complicated but it seems to have had a very adverse affect on the Union…

    But the UK seems to have been under fire since we joined the EU, in readiness for EU federalism.

    • Mike Durrans
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:46 pm | Permalink


  31. Steven
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    We don’t need devolved government to get variable rules and advice do we? Constantly changing everything is text book gaslighting and the precursor to outright totalitarianism. Every vicious and foul regime has insisted that it’s subjects believe a constantly changing and absurd narrative so that their ability to think critically and logically is swamped. 2020 is the clearest example of a worldwide authoritian regime about to turn the world into an absolute nightmare. Are you proud to be one of the enablers?

  32. Bryan Harris
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    The government should not be afraid of taking back devolved powers or even shutting these talking shop parliaments down when they do not perform adequately — AS Thatcher did with the corrupt GLC where Ken Livingstone had been living his socialist dream world.

    Why do devolved parliaments and mayors not not have service levels published so that we can all see how badly they perform… and be likewise accountable. It was a typical blair who gave away power without due responsibility.

    The government should now reign in some of the excesses of devolvement by setting standards, and making sure these are met, or else. That should most certainly apply to the current London mayor who has failed in so many ways already

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      They don’t have to be accountable Bryan as that nice UK Government will keep shovelling English taxpayers’ money at ‘em. Instead of taking back some powers, Boris has promised 70 new ones. None for England of course.

    • rose
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

      There is an Abolish the Assembly Party in Wales now. And anti Drakeford graffiti.

  33. Ian @Barkham
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    As much as it will go against the grain for some in an ideal proper democracy everything should start at the bottom of the pyramid.

    The/any power should pass through the people, their communities, local councils, councils, regions, countries up to the union itself. Only powers that are needed to coordinate the Union should be passed up the chain.

    The reason for the unrest North of the Border, is not the desire for their own parliament but the desire to be in control of their own daily life, with out centralist control by a dictator. Likewise does a Glaswegian want to be controlled by Edinburgh, I think not. Just in the same way Liverpool doesn’t need a Metro London telling them what to do, when they have the ability and support to do it quicker and better.

    The UK’s top down approach is flawed, it undermines the People, removes their asperations and the ability to be self reliant.

    Central Government is a coordination hub whos principle concern should be its external relationships. It should offer collective advice and assistance when required. That hub should have fully paid democratically elected representatives that communicate to Government the wishes and desires of the people they represent. Above all with Brexit the UK government should get passed the concept that it is still the local government of the UK and subordinate to a higher authority.

    Local/County Councils are better equipped and closer to the situation at hand to arrive at the correct outcome. Role things down unilaterally to the Shire and then the unrest even in Scotland will dissipate.

    The flaw in successive government has been their desire for total control, suggesting we have had successive parliament extremely very frightened of the people. The people of the UK are better than the governments they get and get punished to keep them in line.

  34. Annette
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Something needs to done about the financial ‘incentive’, quite apart from the politicisation, for those devolved areas & ‘local’ decisions to ramp up restrictions of liberty without a scintilla of proper ‘evidence’. Being paid to enforce compliance in a stasi state is not a good look for a so-called ‘conservative’ Govt.

  35. Mike Wilson
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    The SNP, unlike the Conservatives, never accept the result of a referendum.

    That made me smile and gag at the same time.

    We were promised a referendum on Lisbon but when Cameron got into power he refused to have a post treaty referendum. If he had and we had said ‘No’ to Lisbon, we might have been able to renegotiate and avoided the turmoil (the Conservatives have made) of Brexit.

    We had a referendum on our EU membership and over FOUR years later Conservatives are still trying to BRINO and effectively ignore the result.

    It is all academic anyway. The main reason, I would suggest, for Brexit is the endless high levels of immigration the Conservatives allow and encourage while pretending they want to reduce it. Even after we finally leave I guarantee immigration will still be allowed to be many hundreds of thousands a year.

    • Mark B
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink


  36. glen cullen
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Is there a ‘D’ notice on brexit ? Nothing last night nor this morning on BBC or Sky about the deadline or EU conference

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      No, the Establishment media would not want to embarrass the Establishment government one little bit.

      • Edward2
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

        Do you think all the media are establishment?
        Independent, Guardian BBC, Channel 4 and 5 news, Observer, Mirror, Morning Star and the one Hefner reads.

    • rose
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      This is what makes me think it must be true: we are on our way.

  37. NickC
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    If the national government insists on “taking charge” of every minutiae then central government will get the blame. Because “top-down” never works.

  38. fedupsoutherner
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I say let them go. The SNP cause nothing but trouble and obviously can’t stand the English. They are constantly trying to hold us back. Sturgeon has had the advantage with the Covid crisis of being able to do everything sooner and lock down more know full well England will have to bail them out. She also hasn’t had to battle with the disease itself. On Question Time everyone was comparing the two but nobody metioned the fact that Scotland can ride on England’s coat tails.

    • anon
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      We need to concentrate on getting the clean break from the EU.
      Other matters can be addressed as we pick up speed.

      FTA’s with non-eu countries. Better UK port infrastructure. Better use of our sea resources and historic alliances.

      Once that is done we can revisit the devolved parliaments. A referendum to abolish them or go properly independent. I hope they stay and trade within a true internal market, with a leveler field and higher H&S standards .

      We could even discuss opportunities with Eire in these trading arrangements.Of course that may mean an invisible border down the sea between Eire and the EU or some other arrangement agreeable to both.

  39. Norman
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    My morning reading began with these words: “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: ” (Mt 12:25)
    Culturally, it was the Bible that unified us, so that our differences became our strength. Now, with the neglect of that godly heritage, unity inevitably gives way to conflict and division: a sign of the times: ‘Gk. ethnos [nations] shall rise against ethnos…’

  40. backofanenvelope
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    This pandemic has exposed the immense bureaucracy that sits on top of us. We have 3 non-English governments with all the establishment appropriate to independent countries. We have the Mayor of London who has his own foreign policy. We also have dozens of universities full of professors of virology who don’t seem to know what we should do.

  41. a-tracy
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Can you tell us John why on a daily basis did English TV broadcast Sturgeon? BBC Scotland have their own station and news and it was a message to the people in Scotland. This is just orchestrated division making and the powers at the top wish it to continue.

    The Scottish nationalism against the English and specifically the English Tories is downright racist. Who would have thought a party with ‘nationalist’ in the title would have been acceptable in 2020.

  42. ukretired123
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Devolution another of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s half baked ideas leaving a trail of disaster wherever they went for the Conservatives to clear up like a poison chalice legacy.

    • JoolsB
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

      Except the Tories didn’t clear it up. They just carried on where Labour left off. After all they don’t want to upset the Scots and the other devolved nations. Pity they couldn’t care less about upsetting the English with their blatant discrimination hurled at us on a regular basis.

      • Fedupsoutherner
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm | Permalink


      • Mark B
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 8:03 am | Permalink


  43. Norman
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Coincidentally, my reading this morning began: “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” (Matthew 12:25).
    I believe it was the Bible that culturally undergirded the Union, so that our differences became our glorious strength. With the neglect of our spiritual heritage, we were set on a path of conflict and decline: a prophetic sign of the times: ‘For nation (Gk ethnos) shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom….(Matthew 24:7a).

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

      Coincidentally, my reading this morning began: “And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” (Matthew 12:25).

      but that is what they want to do.

    • Norman
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      When I look back with gratitude at my life as an Englishman, and think of all past friends, acquaintances, and colleagues from other parts of Great Britain and Ireland, it saddens me to read so much disaffection with them. I realize that history is a multifaceted prism, but surely we should celebrate our combined strengths, and not yield so willingly to the wreckers.

  44. JoolsB
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    We have devolved parliaments for the three smallest nations making their own decisions on the virus and most other things nowadays and yet we still have the SNP and DUP and all the other 117 UK MPs with non English constituencies voting on 10p.m. curfews and lockdowns which only apply to England. With respect John, as someone who purports to speak for England, when are you and your fellow colleagues ‘representing’ English seats going to stick your heads above the parapet and demand an end to this affront to democracy?

    • Fred H
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      exactly. An instant drop of MPs to 533 – instead of 650.

  45. Anonymous
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    How should the UK government handle Devolved government?

    a big wall

  46. Christine
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    What happened to the mantra of “Protect the NHS”?

    This was a noble aim back in March that Government seems to have lost sight of.

    Now the aim seems to be “Zero cases, zero deaths”, something that can never be achieved via policies.

    Like many have said on here, where are all the forecasts for the deaths and misery caused by the lockdowns?

    Where is the voters choice in all this? All you talk about is who has the authority to dictate how we live our lives.

    Let the elderly and the vulnerable shield if they want to but let the rest of society live their lives. The only time authorities should step in is if the NHS is overwhelmed.

  47. A.Sedgwick
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Completely off topic, well maybe not quite. After being referred by GP surgery to eConsult for a minor issue I gave up in despair after page after page of questions, which never in any consultation has been previously required, even with major problems. This is symptomatic of bureaucracy gone mad, it is making me wonder how the NHS is run.

    I am now paying for this procedure at a private GP, which very possibly is not available currently on the NHS – information I tried to glean at the start but the answer was go to eConsult.

    • Original Chris
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      The online econsult form is an utter nightmare, and is not fit for purpose. Can the powers that be not recognise that a one size fits all document is useless, and part of the art of medicine is actually seeing the patient and assessing their state/symptoms/how they present clinically. That info, in conjunction with tick box data, is much more likely to arrive at a decent diagnosis than the econsult. The econsult must surely be a stop gap measure, and it is a nightmare for those older people not that skilled on a computer..

      I too have resorted to a private GP in utter frustration at the non availability of a decent GP service.

      Recently I have found out about the NHS evening and weekend appointments that are available at local hospitals for consultations and blood tests, and the doctors that I have come across there are excellent. Also very punctual and efficient. Strange that our GP practice for many months never advertised this extra service, and even now are not highlighting it.

    • rose
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      You can do it over the telephone. It is much quicker and simpler.

  48. MWB
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    There should be more liocal government, and Burnham should send the next bus load of asylum seekers that arrive in Manchester, back to London. We have had quite enough enrichment.
    How many are Witney and Maidenhead taking ?

    • Fred H
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      mid Cornwall and Norfolk would be better.

      • Backofanenvelope
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        I live in mid-Cornwall. What have we done to you? For myself I would call a halt to importing foreigners at once. They all come from somewhere – send them home.

        • Fred H
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

          well apparently all the migrants are young, super-fit and highly intelligent entrepreneurs. They would bring a new growing economy to the county!

  49. DennisA
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Rising case rates are the result of the mania for testing, at the wrong end of the pandemic. The PCR test is not diagnostic unless combined with physical symptoms and virus isolation.

    Hospitalisation and mortality have not risen in proportion to the case numbers and are an order of magnitude less than they were in March and April, with the peak in the second week of April. Overall hospital bed occupation by Covid patients is around 3% across the whole of the UK. Numbers from UK government data website.

  50. John McDonald
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    I don’t think we can use COV-19 handling as an argument against the four countries of the UK having there own local government, and indeed language.
    Central Government failed to lockdown the British Isles to international travel ( not the import and export of goods) in early February. This step would have contained the rate of spread and fewer hotspots to deal with. Also allowed the internal economy to continue including imports and exports.
    No one seems to have a clear view of the conditions which allow COV-19 to be fatal to some and not even a slight cold for others.
    The Government is not doing well at Brexit negotiations, and if the fishing industry is sacrificed we can say good by to Scotland ( I know the SNP would give our fish away to stay in the EU).
    It is the Mayors that are objecting not the heads of the country governments.
    I think there should be a parliament for each country and a Central Government for the UK as a whole. A reduced central government in effect picking up what the EU did for us.
    Surely if we don’t have to pay to support the European Parliament. We will be able to support a federal UK system and a bit more for the UK NHS

  51. George Brooks.
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Off topic.

    The only reason that the EU has offered (their word) an extra 2 weeks for negotiation on a trade deal is because they are trying to avoid the blame for wrecking the talks from the outset.

    There is no need for the PM to suggest anything or even hint at giving anything. The EU have expected us to accept conditions in a trade deal that they never would. The PM set a deadline of October 15th and he must and has to stand by it, or he and the Conservative party will be finished.

    • Andy
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      The EU doesn’t need to accept to conditions when agreeing trade deals. It is bigger than just about everyone else.

      The UK, on the other hand, isn’t. So if you want a deal it will be mostly on the EUs terms. Of course they will chuck you some fish so you can pretend you won something. But the reality is that you voted for the UK to become irrelevant- and we have.

      • Peter
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

        Irrelevant!! Sixth largest GDP in the world!!
        In EU – Germany larger, France and Italy smaller rest almost non existent.
        German car manufacturers now pressurizing EU.
        EU will be big losers if they don’t cobble together a deal as poorer nations will drag them down and down.

        • Andy
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

          The EU will lose out of no deal. They also lose if there is a deal but they have been clear about that since 2016.

          You, on the other hand, still think you’ve won something.

          As for GDP we are 6th now but it’s predicted that we won’t even be in the top ten by 2050. Placing us behind Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia. Still, we’ll be back in the EU by then.

          • Edward2
            Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

            2050….some prediction!
            Was that the Guardian or the IMF?

        • Peter
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

          Not posted by me.

      • No Longer Anonymous
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 6:50 pm | Permalink


        The EU has lost a big market. Be that because we’ve gone *pop* or because we’ve left, it doesn’t matter.

        Hardly ‘irrelevant’.


        O/T Re your previous expression of belief that the penal system doesn’t work. Capital punishment works for sure. There won’t be many showing certain cartoons after recent events. Such a pity it’s being used to oppress democracy rather than saving it.

    • Fred H
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      All the PM needs to do is decline attending any more talks.

  52. John P McDonald
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    I don’t think we can use COV-19 handling as an argument against the four countries of the UK having there own local government, and indeed language.
    Central Government failed to lockdown the British Isles to international travel ( not the import and export of goods) in early February. This step would have contained the rate of spread and fewer hotspots to deal with. Also allowed the internal economy to continue including imports and exports.
    No one seems to have a clear view of the conditions which allow COV-19 to be fatal to some and not even a slight cold for others.
    The Government is not doing well at Brexit negotiations, and if the fishing industry is sacrificed we can say good by to Scotland ( I know the SNP would give our fish away to stay in the EU).
    It is the Mayors that are objecting not the heads of the country governments.
    I think there should be a parliament for each country and a Central Government for the UK as a whole. A reduced central government in effect picking up what the EU did for us.
    Surely if we don’t have to pay to support the European Parliament. We will be able to support a federal UK system and a bit more for the UK NHS

    • ChrisS
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      British politicians will never allow England to have its own parliament or even let English MPs sit as one.

      I do not believe that paying out over £26bn a year to subsidise NI, Wales and Scotland is acceptable to English taxpayers. Any form of English Parliament will inevitably draw the same conclusion and that is why our politicians will not allow one.

  53. a-tracy
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    With a husband born in Manchester and friends and family in Manchester, I think Mancunians need to stop letting the local politicians play games with them. It’s up to you the people to take over your own protection and care for others, your relatives, friends, fellow colleagues and neighbours. If you have a vulnerable person in your home, workplace and/or mixed-age household your younger relatives who want to party and meet up in groups need to stop mixing with more than the same six people for two weeks. If you feel unwell keep away from everyone until you get a covid test. Better than a total lockdown for everyone.

  54. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Your figures for the 1997 Wales vote are accurate John and means that only about one quarter of the Welsh electorate desired devolution and its consequently repellent Senedd.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      What sensible person would want even more politicians, bureaucrats, parasites, red tape and taxes.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink


        I think this is issue by issue. More politicians in the limit is direct democracy. On the Brexit vote, I’m guessing you supported this.

        Representation vs Experts vs The Crowd depends on the issue, I think that’s why it is hard.

      • rose
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

        Just think what that building cost! The folly of it.

  55. Iain Gill
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    parts of south west london having power cuts, presumably to do with the tweets national grid put out earlier saying we are at high risk of power cuts due to not enough wind to blow the windmills.

    this country really is a laughing stock.

    • rose
      Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

      They are having power cuts in California too, for the same reason, and the traditional power stations which have been shut down are the right side of the fires too.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

        Yes, the UK and the US are two pretty messed-up countries just now.

        The reason is outages in the reserve capacity, intended for when winds are low.

        But that’s the private sector for you.

        • Edward2
          Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

          Two of the biggest economic powers in the world.
          You will be telling us Venezuela and Cuba are taking over next.

          • Edward2
            Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

            Lights will go out in the UK as green policies hit the UK and Europe.
            Rising demand will meet reduced supply

          • Edward2
            Posted October 16, 2020 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

            And you predictably say it is the fault of the private sector.
            Try getting planning permission to build a new power station that uses gas or nuclear or God forbid coal and see how you get along.

        • Fred H
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          you’d prefer we’d have a power line direct from Russia, or thousands of ships bringing low grade coal from China?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 16, 2020 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps they should have collected all the wood left lying about in forests and burned it in a power station rather – than waiting for it to burn in the forest fires?

  56. DavidJ
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Simple; get rid of them.

    As I recall they were an attempt by the traitorous Blair to break up the UK in anticipation of full rule by the EU with GB being consigned to history. Sturgeon in particular causes problems on an almost daily basis and plays into the EUrocrats hand at every opportunity.

    This is the United Kingdom, fought for by our ancestors and needing to be preserved for our descendants. Whilst ever Scotland has its parliament Sturgeon and her ilk will continue to cause trouble.

    If she and her cronies like the EU so much then maybe they should go and live there.

  57. glen cullen
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Devolved government doesn’t work, especially three differing types of devolved government (and excluding a fourth)

    In reality there are only to workable options

    1. Federation
    2. Full Union

    Maybe a referendum throughout the UK

  58. The Prangwizard
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    In the event that tomorrow there is no mention of Brexit, I see that Boris is being uncertain and fence sitting still. He says the EU have said they won’t do any deal but, instead of saying OK we are done, from him it’s ‘if they don’t come up with something we’ll go without’ (paraphrase)

    Why in the name of sanity can he not just walk away now. Clearly he is prepared to ‘cave’ even now. A betrayal in the air even at this stage. What a coward he is.

  59. XYXY
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    The answer to devolution is the same as the answer to independence, if it ever happens – allow it to fail naturally.

    The UK government are far too “nice”.When there’s a crisis, they step in with buckets of cash, handing it over to the devolved govts and mayoralties who then spin the results such that they are saving the day.

    What should happen instead, is that money is forthcoming only when the money is not only given by the UK but also spent and controlled by the UK.

    So Sunak, instead of giving money to Scotland, should have set up a section of the web site to allow Scottish businesses to apply for grants, furlough etc.

    When Khan sees TfL failing or a bridge not being repaired, the UK govt dept responsible for those powers should take over – or they can offer that as a solution, with the alternative being that the devolved power solves the problem itself.

    Only by highlighting the failures of the devolved administrations and doing a better job will it be clearly seen that the UK works better as a whole.

    Such highlighting must be done in a way that the public become aware of, not something that might make page 7 of the Express.

  60. ChrisS
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Most of Burnham’s argument about the compensation for a new lockdown in the North relates to the fact that the proposed furlough allowance is 60% of wages and in many cases, 60% of very little is, well, not much at all.

    I would propose a compromise :

    The Treasury should pay 100% of the statutory minimum wage plus 60% of all income above that figure. That would not cost too much but destroy Burnham’s argument and his disgraceful political posturing.

  61. margaret howard
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Events have overtaken this issue. It looks now that Boris can’t even keep English regions on board. Manchester, a strong Remain voter, under its excellent mayor Andy Burnham is leading a rebellion against the diktats emerging from Downing Street. Others will follow.

    I have written before that after Scotland and Ireland have left the union and joined the EU as independent countries we shall be left as a rump England in a world of huge trading blocs of whom the EU is the most successful.

    What now? Back to the old Anglo Saxon tribal units?

    • Edward2
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 7:55 am | Permalink

      Burnham is just playing party politics.
      His interest is an ambitious one, to eventually lead the Labour party.
      He is quite young and has many years ahead of him.

      Some rump.
      England has over 80% of the tax revenues and the population and the wealth.
      England would still be one of the world’s biggest economies.
      And would gain billions it currently generously sends to subsidise the regions.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Party politics indeed – odd that anyone would want to lead the Labour party though not a very rewarding job. I cannot every see the English wanting to be ruled by a Labour dog wagged by an SNP tail unless Boris make much more of a fist of thinks than he has so far.

      • a-tracy
        Posted October 17, 2020 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        If Margaret’s predictions come true – i.e. If Northern Ireland joins Southern Ireland does this mean we can cancel the common travel area and severe all connections?

        Plus Scotland as per the EU diktats right now, how would we put in a border and stop common travel and inter trade etc?

        It seems the EU can demand one set of rules over the UK, i.e. citizens here without restriction, free NHS from day 1, entitlement to benefits including housing benefits, child tax credits for children not in the country, free or low cost tuition in Scotland for EU citizens but not English citizens. Just when is a line going to be drawn that advantages the people who actually elect your party John?

        Do you think because we elect you your job is just to appease everyone else but us? The people of Manchester are only supporting Burnham because he is saying he’s going to get them more money to stay at home doing nothing. It’s all a fraud. There is a lot of scepticism in the North West, the rumours are you are trying to keep people afraid and apart so discussions can’t be had.

        • rose
          Posted October 17, 2020 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

          The CTA and dual nationality were introduced for the sake of the people in the South who didn’t want to break away. Presumably the same logic would apply as there will be plenty of people in the North who don’t want to break away either.

          • a-tracy
            Posted October 19, 2020 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

            No, its time they’re told if they leave the UK then these conditions end. There will be quotas and they can apply for a quota movement the same as everyone else, if they don’t want to be a member of the UK then that’s fine but you can’t have both. The same terms to Scotland.

  62. Yossarion
    Posted October 16, 2020 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    The UK was forced on the English by an absolute Scottish Monarch, time to wind up this un equal Union, just seeing Gordon Brown sticking His nose into English affairs only moments ago on the news just makes it worst.

  63. steve
    Posted October 17, 2020 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Well, for starters they are not governments, they are assemblies and they do not have a Prime Minister of their own.

    They only get called ‘governments’ by the BBC pushing it’s racist anti -English left wing agenda, and of course because we have a PM lacking the balls to haul the BBC up – another broken promise.

    Now, best way to handle SNP ?…….offer another Indy Ref but including the whole UK vote since the outcome affects us all, that should shut her up.

    If that doesn’t work, just stop the money anyway.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 17, 2020 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Check your stuff, Steve.

      You’ve made yourself look unnecessarily silly on a number of basics here.

  64. Roger Phillips
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Sir John
    There are huge calls in Wales for a referendum on abolishing the Welsh Government. Please give us a say we are sick and tired of the money wasting second rate politicians we currently have ruling us from Cardiff.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted October 18, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Hardly a “patriotic product” of Wales, are you?

  65. Pat
    Posted October 18, 2020 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    The approach I would recommend is to devolve powers to the lowest possible level.
    Education vouchers, or individual education accounts, would devolve education powers to parents.
    Many powers could be devolved from Holyrood, Cardif, Westminster and now the EU to cities and counties.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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