The future of the Union of the UK

I am pleased the UK held a referendum in Scotland to see if people there wanted to leave the UK, after years of pressure from the SNP to break up the Union. It was a great contrast with the tactics used by the Spanish government to prevent such a vote in Catalonia over the future of the Spanish union. I agreed with the SNP in the Commons before the vote, when they said it would be a once in a generation event. These votes are of course divisive, as each side needs to heighten the differences to bid votes its way. They are necessary divisions to reveal  the views of the public and to provide instructions to the politicians.  They are not a good idea to keep repeating. They are also asymmetric, as the wish to have votes to ask if people want to be independent would presumably stop were a vote ever to be won for independence.  Seeking to re enter a Union you have left is altogether more problematic and would clearly require the consent of the Union as well as of the country which had left.

Gordon Brown’s intervention in the debate was predictable and unhelpful. It was his recommended policy of offering devolution that failed to stem the tide of Scottish nationalism, though he thought it would. He now wants to try it again. He as always  wishes to split up England into artificial regions, when England wishes to be afforded the same level of devolution and self government as Scotland enjoys. He has not taken on board the rejection of elected regional assemblies in England as an unwanted and expensive burden on the taxpayer.  A few of my  critics do  not like my wish to save public money by asking Westminster MPs elected for English seats to handle the devolved business for England and want an English Parliament with more politicians.

The UK government says it does not intend to legislate for another referendum as it is too soon to re open this issue. The government currently needs to show how the Union works well for all parts of the UK. It needs to revisit its Single market legislation to make sure we have full powers over GB to Northern Ireland trade which matters to Scottish, Welsh and English businesses selling into Northern Ireland. The government could set out clarifying legislation to say that any load certified as a load for a final consumer in Northern Ireland should not suffer any further or additional checks to those that applied prior to Brexit. The UK would of course police against smuggling product via Northern Ireland to the Republic without the EU checks they want and co-operate with the Irish authorities as they did when we were both in the EU where  smugglers tried to evade Excise and Vat differences between the jurisdictions..



  1. BW
    January 26, 2021

    Sir John. We cannot keep going on with the threat of a referendum until the SNP get the result they want. With Brexit and the continuous threats and doom for the last 4 years, plus a Covid. We could well do without further unrest, back biting, sniping, threats etc for what would last for at least a decade and the uncertainty with the splitting up of the U.K. Now is certainly not the time. Unfortunately the SNP smell victory and they don’t care what consequences there are as long as they get independence at whatever cost.

    1. Simmons
      January 26, 2021

      Well said!
      We can’t have the Union broken under any circumstances.
      However, I do wish we could have a strong leader like Sir John, whom I’ve always admired!

      1. London Nick
        January 26, 2021

        Does it not make you wonder why Sir JR is kept out of government? Obviously they do not want his ideas or his principles. They are INTENTIONALLY betraying the UK, and don’t want anyone who might try to stop this. That is why I will not vote Conservative again.

      2. DavidJ
        January 27, 2021

        Indeed; we cannot tolerate another land border with the EU. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Eurocrats were actively encouraging Sturgeon just to make trouble for us…

  2. Old Albion
    January 26, 2021

    Devolution has fundamentally weakened the Union. It has given extra powers to three parts of the Union whilst either ignoring or trying to destroy the fourth part, England.
    It’s too late to ‘save’ the Union. I want Scotland to become independent, that will help England regain her nationhood.
    We need an English parliament now. It need not bring about more politicians. Remove all Welsh, Scottish and N.Irish constituency MP’s from Westminster. Their own Parliaments can look after their affairs. That’s 117 LESS MP’s. Leaving an English Westminster Parliament of 533 (which really could be reduced)
    Get rid of the House of Lords an anachronistic body if ever there was one. Turn the Upper chamber into a UK Senate, with representatives from all four nations. We certainly won’t need nearly 800 people for that role.
    So democracy for England and a reduction in politicians and no new buildings.
    If you don’t like any of that? Give the English a vote on our independence and see how that turns out.

    1. JoolsB
      January 26, 2021

      Totally agree Old Albion except I would go one further. Get rid of the 533 UK MPs currently squatting in English seats who have stood by for the last twenty years and done nothing, not offered one word of protest at the rotten deal England gets from this so called union . We need to start afresh with elections for dedicated English MPs in an English Parliament who put the interests of England first and foremost for a change unlike the current incumbents who put the union first and England and their constituents last every time. They can’t even bring themselves to say the word England let alone stand up for it.

      1. Narrow Shoulders
        January 27, 2021

        Solve the politician problem with more politicians? No thanks, first just define the voting rules and reduce the number of MPs from 650 to around 400.

      2. DavidJ
        January 27, 2021


    2. MWB
      January 26, 2021


    3. Bob Dixon
      January 26, 2021

      I like your plan. Can it be implemented say next Monday?

    4. glen cullen
      January 26, 2021


    5. Chezza
      January 26, 2021

      +1 – I agree with you though unfortunately I don’t think our democratic system will survive the power grab by the globalist Technocrats using their ridiculous overreaction to this virus

    6. Andy
      January 26, 2021

      You have an English Parliament.

      Nobody in NI voted Tory.

      Just a quarter of voters in Scotland voted Tory.

      Just a third of voters in Wales voted Tory.

      You rule all of these places anyway, despite the vast majority rejecting you.

      1. Old Albion
        January 26, 2021

        You show an alarming lack of knowledge.

      2. agricola
        January 27, 2021

        It was a UK election for a UK parliament. NI, Wales,and Scotland have their own parliaments/assemblies that reflect political opinion among their miniscule populations. England has yet to acquire its own parliament, be it a separate entity, no thank you, or the existing UK parliament where NI, Welsh,and Scottish MPs are banned from voting on specific English matters. Why do you choose not to comprehend this, is it that you prefer to distort fact for your own shallow ends.

    7. A.Sedgwick
      January 26, 2021

      Agreed, saved my re-writing similar pieces over the years. Unfortunately there is zero chance of the Whitehall/Westminster establishment taking any notice. N.I. has virtually gone to a future United Ireland, in or out of the EU. Scotland would vote for independence the same way England voted for Brexit – emotion and sovereignty not economics.

      1. DavidJ
        January 27, 2021

        Our sovereignty trumps all else.

    8. John C.
      January 26, 2021

      I agree with all that. I would like to belong to England, with an English parliament discussing English matters.

  3. GilesB
    January 26, 2021

    The electorate for any referendum to change the boundaries, the very definition, of a sovereign state should be ALL the citizens of that sovereign state not a subset.

    The U.K. is a sovereign state. We didn’t take control back from Brussels in order to give it to Edinburgh.

    Otherwise Cornwall, Kensington & Chelsea, etc etc will be holding their own referenda.

    If San Marino with 30,000 inhabitants and 25 square miles can be a landlocked micro-state surrounded by Italy, why not have The Kingdom of Wokingham!

  4. Lifelogic
    January 26, 2021

    Good old “no return to boom and bust” Gordon Brown. Yet another person with first class degrees and a doctorate (history) but with no common sense or understanding of people, business, economics, science or reality. Devolution was always going to backfire (mainly on Labour) and it was done appallingly too by the Labour Party evil dopes for party political advantage as they thought.

    I see that overall deaths in Germany 2020 when adjusted for age profile and population are entirely normal. Very slightly up on 2019 but less than 2017 & 2018.

    Still no one talking about the failure of JCVI and the Government to adjust the vaccine priority to reflect gender risk properly. Probably killing hundreds of extra people as a result and hospitalising far more. Why is this? It is not too late for them to correct their foolish error and save lives and protect “our” NHS. But no journalists even pose the question it seems. Hard for JCVI to admit their foolish error now I suppose. Better for people to die than be slightly embarrassed seems to be the line taken.

    1. Christine
      January 26, 2021

      We also see the clerical, working from home, NHS staff, getting the vaccine, whereas the critical pharmaceutical staff, producing the vaccine aren’t.

      We also hear that the EU is to put in place restrictions to stop the vaccine from being exported from their member states to non-EU countries. This is just what I predicted would happen.

  5. Ian Wragg
    January 26, 2021

    Unless you sort out the ridiculous situation in Northern Ireland you will have Scotland wanting the same. Regardless of the fact that if they were able to rejoin the EU (which I doubt) there would be a hard border with England.
    We’re in a right mess just now.

  6. Shirley M
    January 26, 2021

    The timing could not be worse for a Scottish referendum. Eliminating the virus and dealing with the economy needs to be dealt with first. Let us all see the full effects of Brexit, both within the UK and the EU, before any referendum takes place. This will take a few years, then allow Scotland to have an independence ref every 25 years or so, if there is a convincing call for one.

    1. Philip P.
      January 26, 2021

      Coronaviruses have never been eliminated, Shirley, nor has just about any other virus. According to the GAVI (the Vaccine Alliance), the smallpox virus was eliminated, but it could not spread by animal transmission. But Covid 19 can, as we know from what happened in Wuhan and from the variant transmitted via mink farms recently.

      The economy is already being dealt with. It’s being ‘reset’, as you will soon notice if you haven’t already.

    2. Caterpillar
      January 26, 2021

      Shirley M,

      Eliminating the virus? You have understandably fallen for the propoganda of fear and control message, allowing the Govt to switch off vast swathes of the economy, make people dependant, and stripping away human rights and liberty.

      The calendar year total death rates would have been considered normal only a few years ago, indeed mid year to mid year (Juy 19 to end June 20) were essentially on trend mean + delayed deaths from previous soft year. July 20 to end June 21 is not known yet, but if over the next 4 weeks or so weekly deaths drop back towards 12,000 it won’t be very unusual. The prime reason to expect them to not drop back is due to a population that has been intentionally made more unhealthy over the past year by Govt actions, and of course over the longer term by the weakened immunity of the modern diet (sugar, processed carbs, processed oils).

      Eliminating the virus is bunkum; eliminating businesses, individual potency, and freedom is what has happened and will continue to happen. (Long term ZIRP signals approaching post-scarcity hence … )

  7. Mark B
    January 26, 2021

    Good morning

    And when, pray tell, will England be granted a referendum on whether or not she wishes to be part of this biased union ?

    Niccolò Machiavelli in his book, The Prince, once said;

    “Friendship which is bought, is paid for. But is does not last, and yields nothing.”

    Our membership of the EU and all the money we have, and will continue even after we supposedly have left, proves this. And so too does it apply to those England pays to remain in this Union of unequals.

    And finally. Question : Which political party in the last 10 years forced City Mayors and Police Commissioners (more layers bureaucracy) upon the people of England ? So I do not hold out much hope of any positive change.

  8. agricola
    January 26, 2021

    It hangs on an economically successful post Brexit UK of which Scotland is a part. Scotland is a dependant part of the UK subsidised by a more dynamic England. The alternatives for Scotland are complete independence or a return to the EU. The EU opposed Brexit, foremost because the UK was its second largest nett financial contributor. They need Scotland like a hole in the head, having a surfeit of dependant countries already.
    Who as a businessman would choose to set up a major plant in Scotland while it flirts with socialism and a very uncertain future. Even the BBC who give it more air time than it merits could not persuade itself to up sticks and settle in Glasgow, much as my experience of that town is positive.
    Much as I would like to see the SNP silenced at Westminster on matters exclusively English I do not want an additional English Parliament. We have a glut of politicians, most of them just lobby fodder promoted beyond practical usefulness. 650 of them to do the job of 250, six times as many as the USA finds necessary in population comparison. On top of this the HoLs whose numbers are unbelievable. Bring in the swamp clearers.
    The SNP shot their bolt at the last referendum. Let them wait a generation at which point a successful UK will make them yesterdays chip paper.

    1. None of the Above
      January 26, 2021

      Broadly agree, particularly with your last sentence.
      The SNP are a political paradox, they want to be independent of the UK but they want to be vassals of the EU. They blame England for all their imagined ills and they claim credit for all their imagined successes.
      They also do not respect democracy because, like ‘Remainers’, they didn’t like the result of the referendum 6 years ago so they want another one.

    2. IanT
      January 26, 2021

      We seem to be of the same mind in these things. It’s far too early to judge the success (or not) of leaving the EU, any advantages will not accrue overnight. Nor do we know the full impact of the pandemic on or economy yet. There’s too much going on for people to be rationale at the moment – needs time for things to settle.

    3. JoolsB
      January 26, 2021

      But an English Parliament would not require more politicians, if anything far less. Not only would democracy be restored to England but a huge saving would be made in the process. For a start 117 Scots, Welsh & NI MPs would be gone nor would we need anywhere near 533 English MPs. This is the very reason 650 self serving UK MPs reject the idea.

      1. Lynn Atkinson
        January 26, 2021

        So you want no uK Parliament? You want 4 little nations with their own parliaments.

        1. JoolsB
          January 27, 2021

          Did I say I want no UK Parliament? No of course I didn’t. As I have said elsewhere on here (although still in moderation 24 hours later for criticising John’s Government) we need a greatly reduced UK Government for reserved matters only.

          As for four nations – four parliaments, well it seems it’s okay for the three smaller nations to have their own parliaments but not the fourth, the largest nation. Do you have a problem with the idea of England being treated as equals in this so called union Lynn? It would appear so.

    4. Andy
      January 26, 2021

      “Economically successful Brexit” = oxymoron.

  9. Grey Friar
    January 26, 2021

    As you are fully aware, legislation to say that any load certified as a load for a final consumer in Northern Ireland should not suffer any further or additional checks to those that applied prior to Brexit would contradict the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, which you voted for and which makes clear there is now a full customs and regulatory border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. So why are you now pressing the government to act illegally?

    Reply No, not illegal. I voted for Clause 38 to give us the right to legislate as I am proposing. Try reading the law.

    1. agricola
      January 26, 2021

      I would add to SJRs reply that as the EU have not as yet ratified the agreement we only have a one sided one that we the UK are applying but the EU are at sea with.

  10. Len Peel
    January 26, 2021

    The main reason Scots voted No in 2014 was to stay in the EU. That has now changed, its time for a new vote and Scots will vote to join the worlds best free trade zone and bye bye UK. Another Brexit dividend

    1. Richard1
      January 26, 2021

      One of the strong arguments of the Scottish separatists in 2014 was there would be no cost to leaving the U.K. single market as both rUK and Scotland would be in the EU. That argument has been turned in its head and the cost now would be much higher. Indeed the more the EU play silly buggers confiscating sandwiches etc, the more of a favour they are doing unionists in Scotland by illustrating the disruption there would be to the large majority of Scottish trade which goes to the U.K.

    2. Narrow Shoulders
      January 26, 2021

      The bestest, most brightest, and colourful, free trade zone in the whole wide world!!!!!!!!!!!

      BBC Bite Size is certainly having an effect on the nation’s young.

    3. agricola
      January 26, 2021

      Is your dividend to Scotland or the UK, in that the cost of running Scotland would shift from the UK to the EU. I would further ask, can the EU afford it.

    4. a-tracy
      January 26, 2021

      Scotland thinks they can have it all Len as Ireland is currently doing able to travel freely into the UK to take work, travel around freely, come to study, compete they don’t contribute 2% of gdp to NATO they’re quids in have been taking more out of the EU than they contribute in past years whilst the UK was fulfilling both commitments, paying in whilst impoverishing English regions, moving factories and jobs out of the Midlands and the North without a care for the men that held those jobs.

      But Scotland needs to remember they can’t have ‘no border’ with England, they’d give control to the European banking system and the Euro! If they lose their Union with the UK then they get a hard border with the UK their key trading Country and this silly paperwork over the border that we even have with Northern Ireland a part of our Union – ridiculous GOVE must change this, it would end free passes for jobs in England, Wales and Northern Ireland they’d have to join the quota queue with other immigrant requests and no top-up tax credit claims. They think it would make someone like Sturgeon higher status like the PM of Malta or Vadakar was – what is not to like – let’s have it all they think!

    5. acorn
      January 26, 2021

      Agreed Len. Both Scotland and Northern Ireland (NI) voted to stay in the EU, England and Wales didn’t. The UK will come under US and EU pressure to cede NI to form a re-united Ireland within the EU. Scotland could leave and apply for EFTA/EEA membership, preferably with its own currency but the Euro would do for a start.

      England could then get its own government by default and start sorting out its Punch & Judy, two centuries out of date, elected dictatorship that is the Westminster bubble. Simples!

      1. a-tracy
        January 28, 2021

        Really acorn why would the US pressure the UK? Would they pressure Israel to reform Palestine?

    6. graham1946
      January 26, 2021

      The Scots could well decide to join the EU but what do you think the EU will say? They need to fill their budget black hole not sign up another supplicant. The Scots have no way of joining, their budget is in too big a deficit, without English money they would sink entirely, they would have to join the Euro and put up Customs border against its biggest market. Some independence that is!

    7. Original Richard
      January 26, 2021

      How can you say the reason the Scots voted no in 2014 was to stay in the EU when the SNP said that they would have no problem re-joining the EU after independence?

      The reason the SNP are pro EU is because the EU have plans to eliminate the nation states and replace them with EU regions, where Scotland would be one such region.

      They thus reckoned that as a poor EU region they would benefit from EU subsidies as well as continued rUK subsidies.

    8. IanT
      January 26, 2021

      The Scots should certainly be free to walk their own path if they wish Len but it might be a lonelier and poorer one.

      They currently export 20% to the EU and 60% to the rest of the UK – so I would suggest that in terms of the “Worlds best free trade zone” – they have been in the UKs “Trade Zone” for a lot longer than the EU’s – and that’s it’s a lot more valuable to them. I would also suggest that “free movement” in and out of the rest of the UK is more valuable than any movement around Europe might be.

    9. formula57
      January 26, 2021

      @ Len Peel “The main reason Scots voted No in 2014 was to stay in the EU. “ – only from the perspective fashioned by the SNP in 2021! At the time, the SNP were assuring Scots voters that a vote Yes would see Scotland promptly join the Evil Empire in its own right so it is hard to see how such membership was any reason at all let alone the main one for a No vote.

      You are right about the Brexit dividend, although the benefits need to account for the costs of having a failed state on our northern border. A Trumpian wall might assist of course.

    10. Shirley M
      January 26, 2021

      That is just an assumption, or wishful thinking. More Scottish people voted to leave the EU than the number of Scots who voted for the SNP.

    11. Syd
      January 26, 2021

      Not true.
      We voted No in order to stay in the U.K.
      We do not want another Referendum.
      English readers and residents please understand – the majority of voters in Scotland are those voting Con, Lab and Lib – the SNP voters are a minority.
      Please don’t turn your back on the 55% of us who voted No in 2014 and won the day democratically.

      1. IanT
        January 27, 2021

        Good to hear Syd – I’m sure we’d both be the poorer if we separated, if only for all the upset it would cause.

    12. JohnK
      January 26, 2021


      I congratulate you on your God-like insight into the mind of every Scottish voter.

      I would argue, however, that Scottish voters may well have voted to keep the Union because they were happy with our present constitutional arrangement, and saw no advantage in a so-called “independence” which would have broken up a 300 year old Union for no good reason.

  11. Tim Bidie
    January 26, 2021

    ‘….save public money by asking Westminster MPs elected for English seats to handle the devolved business for England and want an English Parliament with more politicians.’

    A supporter, not a critic, I would like an English Parliament. But I do not want more politicians, more expense.
    The solution: abolish the House of Lords, its scrutineering role performed for devolved Parliaments by the United Kingdom Parliament select committees; scrutineering of UK Parliament legislation performed by devolved Parliament select committees

    1. JoolsB
      January 26, 2021


  12. DOM
    January 26, 2021

    The UK’s dissolution was sealed when we entered the EU in the 1970’s and its demise confirmed when Marxist Labour working with the EU instituted devolution to splinter the union.

    Now we see Northern Ireland surrendered to a region of the EU to secure a trade and cooperation agreement (formally known as capitulation) with Germany and France.

    So, Scotland, England and Wales remain. Scotland will almost certainly secede from the union with EU support and no doubt seek re-entry, which they will be afforded in warp speed time.

    With England and Wales left defending the rearguard. Who knows what may happen with these two regions. I don’t see a determined push for separation in Wales and in England, well it’s England. Now socialist, progressive and heading towards an abyss of oppression, monitoring and illiberal governance both statutory and culturally

    Yes, all main parties (Tory, Marxist Labour and the fascist SNP) and their vile allies have so much to answer for, their crimes are without precedence

    1. Caterpillar
      January 26, 2021


      You remain correct that all main parties (and hence their members) have much to answer for. Do you have a suggestion of how that can be brought about?

    2. Will in Hampshire
      January 26, 2021

      Look on the bright side: there’ll be absolutely no doubt that the England and Wales Cricket Board is the national authority on the sport here.

  13. MiC
    January 26, 2021

    But the 2014 vote was held on the basis of a “Pledge” by the Cameron government, and that the only way to be sure of remaining in the European Union was to vote for the UK Union.

    The Pledge was shredded before the last votes were even counted, and the Nations were never given a veto on leaving the European Union, nor was the advisory referendum subject to the international norms on major constitutional change.

    Since the last vote was clearly on a false prospectus, the Scots are abundantly deserving of another.

    It need NEVER have come to this, but for the self-centred and extremist demands of the ERG etc.

    Reply The Scottish referendum debate of course included the fact that it is the U.K. that belonged to the EU. An independent Scotland would not. A subsequent referendum does not make that a lie.

    1. Peter Parsons
      January 26, 2021

      Brexit is a fundamental change of circumstance and therefore represents reasonable grounds to revisit the question given what was said last time round.

    2. MiC
      January 26, 2021

      I was not claiming that the fact above is a lie.

      Far from it – because of that truth and the nature of the Pledge, the Scots could reasonably have expected that any referendum would have been on the terms necessary to honour the former’s implications.

      It was not. It was held on terms to satisfy you and the rest of the ERG instead, for the sake of maintaining Tory power.

    3. graham1946
      January 26, 2021

      The ‘Pledge ‘ was made in the circumstances of the time and no parliament can bind its successor. The saying ‘When facts change, I change my mind’. What do you do? Stick to a dead mantra forever it seems. The people voted out, even though that is not what we actually got as is becoming clearer every day. The EU is even now desperately threatening to stop Pfizer vaccine being delivered to the UK to try to cover up their own incompetence and some of our people are suggesting we give them our vaccine, even before our own people have been done to try to make the EU look good. Desperate stuff.

    4. Andy
      January 26, 2021

      Scotland will be welcomed back into the EU. So will Northern Ireland as a part of a United Ireland.

      Little England will be left wallowing in its own misery.

      1. IanT
        January 27, 2021

        I have to admire your dogged consistency Andy – if only it was matched by any kind of practical fiscal understanding, it might make your outbursts more interesting.

        The EU essentially comprises two groups – the net contributors and the net takers. It has just lost it’s second largest net contributor. Scotland would join the ranks of the takers. Out of the 27 Member states, only seven are now net contributors – the other twenty being takers.

        Now I know we live in a time of enlightened friendship – but allowing Scotland to join the EU would dilute the amount of ‘largesse’ (euphemism for giving away other peoples money) that the EU could provide to the other existing 20 states. Of course, the contributors could step up and agree to pay more – but they are probably still trying to figure out how to cover the 17% loss of income caused by Brexit.

        And of course, whatever the EU might decide to ‘give’ Scotland, it would be very unlikely to match the Barnett formulae. How do you think the Scots will feel about paying for their prescriptions and University education again?

    5. Syd
      January 26, 2021

      The Pledge was an irrelevance.
      It appeared in the newspapers a few days before the vote. By that time the vast majority must have decided how they were going to vote.
      Perhaps the Pledge influenced some voters, but remember that the final score produced a 10% difference between Yes and No. The Pledge could never have materially affected that sort of difference.

      1. MiC
        January 27, 2021

        The Scots will rightly be the judge of that.

        Personally I will feel a great sense of loss at no longer belonging to the same nation as them, but I understand 100% why they would want to break from England.

  14. Lifelogic
    January 26, 2021

    Also as 2019 was low one would expect a slightly higher 2020

  15. Peter
    January 26, 2021

    The EU will use the agreement concerning Northern Ireland to try to damage the UK. According to reports in the Daily Express the latest revelation is that :-
    ‘any tax break given by the government, to a sector or to companies in Great Britain, that happened to trade with Northern Ireland, are going to be caught by EU state aid laws, and they will be adjudicated by the European Court of Justice.’

    Northern Ireland, fishing and services were the three biggest failures of the Agreement Johnson signed up to. He should be trying to rectify that but he won’t.

    Scotland seems a less immediate issue with the fighting between Sturgeon and Salmond throwing a spanner in their plans.

    1. None of the Above
      January 26, 2021

      I wouldn’t worry too much about what the EU want if I were you. The ECJ can make whatever rulings it wants but they can all be nullified by our Sovereign Parliament and in any event ‘The Agreement requires that any dispute is dealt with by a ‘Joint Committee’. The NI Protocol itself gives us the remedies to most of the foreseeable difficulties but we should remember that the consent of the people of Northern Ireland is required in four years time for the ‘Protocol’ to continue.
      Besides, if it is supposed that serious difficulties exist at the border at the moment, things could hardly be worse if we gave the EU 12 months notice of quitting the ‘Agreement’.

    2. Grey Friar
      January 26, 2021

      That is not a “revelation”, it was pointed out by anyone who read Johnson’s “oven ready” deal back in 2019 including the DUP who were furious about it. Yet every Conservative MP voted for to dump Northern Ireland!

    3. Sharon
      January 26, 2021

      Already there are noticeable problems in NI. My son’s good friend who lives in Belfast sent a list of quite a large number of British businesses who now won’t bother to deliver to NI. The friend also says that the supermarket shelves are quite empty. Apparently due to EU regulations. This is outrageous!

      1. Peter Carson
        January 27, 2021

        I can put you right there, Sharon. They are not EU regulations. They are UK regulations. Separating NI from GB was what Theresa always refused to do but Boris did it happily in his ovenready deal. NI is in a terrible state, it is London’s fault, not Brussels

    4. Qubus
      January 26, 2021

      Having watched the second of three programmes on the BBc about fishing in Cornwall, I feeel extremely sorry for these Cornish fishermen, but their efforts are almost 19th century. There seems to me to be no chance that they will ever be able to compete with the modern fishing fleets of the EU counties.

      1. IanT
        January 27, 2021

        They don’t need to – they are after different catches.

        The very large trawlers don’t catch lobsters but they do cause a great deal of damage to the sea bed. I was also interested to see that one enterprising fisherman had decided to start selling directly- and was doing well at it.

  16. Roy Grainger
    January 26, 2021

    I remember John Major announcing that the UK had no strategic interest in keeping NI part of the Union. If they wanted to leave they should leave. That’s my view too, as an English resident I couldn’t care less if NI and Scotland vote to leave.

    I’ve worked all over the world in all continents – the only place I’ve ever encountered anti-English racism directed against me was in Scotland.

    1. No Longer Anonymous
      January 26, 2021

      I’ve encountered anti English racism against me many times in England !

    2. MiC
      January 26, 2021


      Can’t take a joke eh?

    3. ChrisS
      January 26, 2021

      Exactly !

    4. Fedupsoutherner
      January 26, 2021

      Roy, I have to agree with your comments about racism. It only took around a month for me to realise just how much some of the Scots hate the English. It can also be that way when dealing with members of the SNP. The hated in their tone and manner when dealing with the English is there for all to see. I wont’ name those I am thinking of as John wouldn’t print this. For a nation that was broke when it joined the union they are one very ungrateful lot of people. They benefit far more than the English do from the money they receive from the Barnett formula but still it isn’t enough. They interfere in things which don’t concern them and I know many people who would vote to let them go if given the chance. Choosing a time such as this when we all have other more pressing things to worry about shows the kind of government the SNP is. I hope all the infighting amongst them regarding the Salmond and Sturgeon issues are their downfall.

    5. turboterrier
      January 26, 2021

      Roy Grainger

      the only place I’ve ever encountered anti-English racism directed against me was in Scotland.


  17. Narrow Shoulders
    January 26, 2021

    I am afraid that while the Scottish demos votes in the SNP on the basis of their spending of Barnett funds the independence issue can not go away. The party has independence as its core aim so it is reasonable for them to suggest that their is an appetite for independence.

    To finally lay the spectre of this debate another independence referendum is required.

    However, this referendum should not be a no risk endeavour by the Scottish people. Prior to the referendum the terms of separation must be voted on by the whole of the UK. Debt, divorce payments, access to our market, use of the pound, repaid infrastructure, bank financing, oil etc all need to be agreed before any referendum. Then the rest of the UK needs to vote on those terms before Scotland gets to vote on them. Then it is a known, clean outcome.

    Also if our Scottish countrymen have an independence vote, Barnett is removed as soon as the date is set and their funding is provided on a much fairer scale. No reward (referendum) without risk (Barnett).

  18. Nig l
    January 26, 2021

    And now we read that both state aid rules and the jurisdiction of the ECJ can indirectly cascade down to businesses in the U.K. trading with NI.

    I am certain Boris and Gove have misled (lied) to us. Your need to intervene confirms this.

  19. Richard1
    January 26, 2021

    We should at least wait for the next eurozone crisis before allowing the Scottish separatists to renege on their commitment that the 2014 referendum was “once in a generation”.

    1. IanT
      January 27, 2021

      Why? – we are all still busy watching their current crisis over Vaccine distribution. Reuters reporting Astra Zeneca have just cancelled their scheduled meeting with the EU – seems to be going well.

      What was Nicola’s view on being part of the EU’s vaccine programme?

  20. Iain Gill
    January 26, 2021

    I notice there is a nationwide shortage of some roofing materials, like 50mm PIR insulation board, and some tiles.

    Given that we are in the middle of winter, and roofs will be displaying symptoms more, and roof problems will be more serious, this could not be happening at a worse time.

    Can someone in government please get their finger out and do what it takes to fix this mess. It is presumably a result of the lockdown. John please pass the message on.


  21. alan jutson
    January 26, 2021

    Just face facts Devolution has been an expensive disaster, are any of the people governed under the devolved powers any better off in any way ?

    Give someone and inch and they will want to take a mile, never has a saying been so true. !

    Just like many politicians the devolved Governments they want to make their own rules but at the cost of somebody else’s money to pay for it all.

  22. Sir Joe Soap
    January 26, 2021

    There has to be some slightly more deft handling than just saying no.
    1 Yes, ensure that NI is brought back into the UK Customs Area
    2 Give Scotland the choice of status quo and no referendum, or a referendum choice between closing the Scottish Parliament and Independence. It has to be no referendum or an all in or all out referendum.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      January 27, 2021

      Quite no risk, no reward

  23. Dave Andrews
    January 26, 2021

    O/T but relevant.
    I see in the news there is talk about the EU blocking vaccine exports to the UK that are manufactured in Belgium. This is fake news surely. What power does the EU have to tell Belgium or the manufacturer where they can sell their product? If it was Belgium blocking the export to secure a supply for its own citizens on grounds of national security, I could understand that.

  24. Caterpillar
    January 26, 2021

    The issues of devolution and votes for England is an infantile distraction.

    We do not have a representative democracy, we live in a dictatorship. The dictatorship and its ‘just following orders’ police have put borders around us at the level of individual, home, locality and nation.

    It is a pathetic pretence that we are discussing democracy and borders, people are imprisoned with no rights. I don’t care about being liberated as U.K. or liberated as England, the overriding issue is how to restore freedom and what to do with those who crushed it?

  25. beresford
    January 26, 2021

    Try calculating Scotland’s share of the National Debt and announcing how it would be transferred. That should dampen down enthusiasm.

  26. Glenn Vaughan
    January 26, 2021

    Presumably Gordon Brown considers anyone not agreeing with him is therefore bigoted (?)

  27. Fred H
    January 26, 2021

    Those of us with grand-daughters will have heard about Frozen. The song ‘Let it go, let it go, let it go’ springs to mind.

  28. Bryan Harris
    January 26, 2021

    I always wonder why we give so much power to devolved parliaments without having an easy way to withdraw that power when they start acting against the best interests of the UK as a whole…! As the SNP surely are.

    They’ve shown themselves incompetent as regards handling the Virus and the economy, plus they have been plotting with the EU behind our backs to compromise BREXIT. How many strikes do they need before Westminster does something?

    It is all too clear that the main reason the SNP want to join the EU is down to money – They see how many EU countries have benefited in various ways from EU funds, and they want some. They think the UK government does not award them enough cash to waste on their irrational socialist projects.

    Time for action — Suspend the Scottish Parliament… or at least censor it and take away some of their more abused powers.

  29. majorfrustration
    January 26, 2021

    I rather think that given recent history that quite possibly a majority of English voters would be happy to see the back of the Scots. Lets call their bluff and agree a transition period. A win win for the English. Over to you EU

    1. IanT
      January 27, 2021

      Not at all, I’d not be happy to see the Scots leave – but I would like the full facts of leaving the Union spelt out to them before any vote. All I see in the media is the “ever growing threat” of Scotland leaving – never any detailed analysis of exactly how this would happen and the impacts it would cause.

      The only person to really attempt to pin Nicola Sturgeon down, was another Scot – Andrew Neil. He asked some hard (but very obvious) questions and answers did he get? None!

      What currency? A hard border with England? EU Membership? Replacing the Barnett formulae? Right to Reside? Freedom of Movement? There is so much fuss made by the SNP about the UK leaving the EU but so little detail of what leaving the Union would entail for the Scots.

      1. john waugh
        January 27, 2021

        the full facts of leaving – yes that is what I want to see .
        I am not seeing the hard facts being thrashed out .
        Dispense with the niceties .Demolish the total stupidity.

  30. SM
    January 26, 2021

    This whole argument about the ‘independence’ of the Scots, the N Irish and the Welsh is so, so reminiscent of the constant (and often vicious, sometimes fatal) rejigging of Central Europe/Italy and the Balkans throughout the C19 and C20th centuries, with the Russians swooping in every so often to mix things up even further.

    One faction wants its own country, 2 factions argue over the ownership of another, a 4th faction wants its independence providing that includes the domination of smaller factions, and a 5th faction wants a Federation or a Kingdom or an Empire with lots of jobs for the boys/girls.

    What conclusion to draw? Hmmm, well where are the Austro-Hungarian, German, Ottoman and Russian Empires now? How many millions of human lives have been destroyed or ruined because of these stupid and horrible games? When is someone, anyone, anywhere going to stand up and say “it isn’t worth it, whatever nationality you claim or is assigned to you is less important than your own integrity, health and happiness”?

    1. SM
      January 27, 2021

      Just out of interest, why is my sole comment (which is polite, quite brief and on topic) still awaiting moderation?

  31. None of the Above
    January 26, 2021

    I support this Government’s view that no referendum should be held for a ‘generation’ after the last one in 2014. If another referendum is permitted to run by 2029/2030, I firmly believe that ALL UK Citizens should be entitled to vote because such a momentous change would affect ALL UK Citizens.
    In the meantime, let us all get back to work and make the whole UK a prosperous place to live and work.

    1. IanT
      January 27, 2021

      I certainly think we all have more urgent problems than Scottish Independence at this time.

  32. ukretired123
    January 26, 2021

    There have always been deep divisions in Scotland’s warring clans and resentment and bloody mindedness often surfaces above cool headed common sense. Fighting the system is a way of life. The SNP have exploited this and their inability to deliver real change for Scotland despite a decade in power is now exposed.
    Blaming the sassenachs that they don’t have more control over Budgets and CV19 won’t wash anymore – like Corbyn’s not enough socialism like in Venezuela and other failed states. Let’s be honest that without the Barnet formula Scotland would be in the red too. Under SNP it is a failing potential state or failed region full stop.

  33. No Longer Anonymous
    January 26, 2021

    The USA has 50 states each larger than GB ruled from thousands of miles away. After WW2 it’s Germany that reunifies and GB that falls apart. It seems most odd but there we are. I recommend Richard Littlejohn who writes on this subject today. If you want to see a failed state look at SNP’s Scotland and if Ms Sturgeon really wants independence for Scotland then she could do no better than let the English vote on it too. I am utterly sick of her conduct during this pandemic.

  34. Poulton
    January 26, 2021

    There was a time, quite long ago now, when Scotland elected mainly Conservative and Labour MPs, in like manner and proportion to England; but way before the EU referendum loomed that had changed. On the whole the Scottish people are not in tune with the English in terms of aspiration for the way the country is run. As Boris let slip recently, he thinks they are in the majority socialists. This is potentially dangerous. If they want nationalised trains, water, municipal housing for rent etc etc I can see that they are peeved by the policies imposed by London. There is the nonsense of the SNP having votes on matters affecting England only. Healthier to let them go even though a. they will very likely suffer economically and b. there would have to be a serious border from Carlisle to Berwick. The nature of b and its implications would need to be sensibly set out in any referendum.

  35. Mike Durrans
    January 26, 2021

    The Conservatives must Repeal the Devolution act.
    Make the Ulster, Welsh and Scotlands parliamentary buildings into museums, then make a start on making the Andy Burnhams of this country redundant.

    Westminster is enough to rule our small Islands.
    Devolution was designed to weaken us, complete the job of leaving the eu and defeating the left.

    1. Lynn Atkinson
      January 26, 2021

      It’s obvious isn’t it? They break it then propose smashing it into smaller pieces as a solution.

  36. JoolsB
    January 26, 2021

    Personally John I’m sick of hearing about Scotland. When is your Government ever going to start talking about England for a change? Your Government gives them thousands more of English taxes per head than they give us English. Their young are not burdened with the mountain of debt your Government have saddled ours with, and still they whinge. Now Johnson thinks the answer is to give them even more powers, 71 new powers I believe is the current figure whilst still no mention as usual of any powers whatsoever for the NATION of England. You say Brown was determined to break England up into regions. Please tell me what your Government has done to stop this? Haven’t they done exactly the same except by another name with their city regions and their City Mayors which no-one in England when asked wanted but were imposed on them anyway. Balkanisation by stealth by a Tory Government at that. Tell me John, what have Tory Governments, there by the grace of England, got against England?

    England deserves better.

    When is England ever going to be asked what we want? When are we English going to be given a referendum on whether we want to remain part of a union which the only thing we get out of is the bill. Your party’s deliberate attempt along with Labour’s to ignore the English Question, the West Lothian Question and the Barnett Formula has been a complete and utter betrayal of England. Give Scotland their referendum and please God they vote to leave. If we English were allowed to vote they’d be gone tomorrow.

  37. Original Richard
    January 26, 2021

    Should the SNP be granted another independence referendum they should not be allowed to rig the vote by allowing “all the people living in Scotland” a vote (viz anyone of whatever nationality who is currently living in Scotland, even possibly on a temporary visa basis) and at the same time denying the vote to all the Scottish ex-pats living elsewhere in the UK.

  38. glen cullen
    January 26, 2021

    Self Determination

    How would we feel if the EU said that we couldn’t have a referendum?

    Just imagine the outrange if the EU quoted a chap in Devon saying that the referendum was a generational thing so therefore you’re no having another one

    Its only a Union if the 4 Nations and its peoples wish it so

    If a party stands and wins an election with ‘referendum’ in their manifesto it must be allowed to hold it….its called democracy

    1. IanT
      January 27, 2021

      It took us 40 plus years to get that referendum and if the vote had been to remain in the EU (which was the expected outcome)- I am pretty sure it would have been another 40 years before we ever had another chance again (if ever). The “once in a generation” comment was not made by some chap in Devon – but the Leader of the SNP at that time.

  39. Guy Liardet
    January 26, 2021

    John, off thread I know, but you must get up to speed on the ridiculous Gummer’s plans to ruin us to no purpose. There’s a vast literature on the climate change scam

  40. Multi-ID
    January 26, 2021

    I could say ‘suck it up’ you only have yourselves to blame- the Scots like the Irish never had a referendum to start with, not in 1707 and not in 1800. Also I believe since the referendum of 2014 it did not take into account that the Scots would be stripped of their EU citizenship in 2016 mainly by the weight of English voters so now the dynamic is changed and the way is clear- it is surely time for them to have another vote sometime in the next few years- afterall a lot of Scots just want to be away to take control of their borders, their money and their laws- where did I hear that before? they deserve another vote to settle this UK EU matter otherwise unhappiness will grind away probably with the same outcome but just further down the road. Do we still want to be talking about this Scottish independence thing ten twenty thirty years more until another vote- better allow a vote now and get it over with

  41. kzb
    January 26, 2021

    Apparently, the legal position is that the Scots could walk away from the UK without taking its share of the national debt with them. This position needs correcting with new legislation. The remaining UK population must not be left with the Scots’ share of this massive debt should the Scots leave. There is a majority of English MPs in the house so this should be easy.
    Also, many SNP supporters seem to think they will be credited with the past value of “Scotland’s oil”, plus interest, in the leave negotiations. The logic being that England “stole” this oil. Again, we need to set their ideas straight on that one.

  42. ChrisS
    January 26, 2021

    While I agree with your arguments, I am afraid that the SNP have been allowed to make the running in Scotland with almost no competent opposition, especially since Ruth Davies stood down. Labour, of course, are a complete busted flush in Scotland.
    The result is that after the next Holyrood election the forces seeking a second referendum will be unstoppable.
    I think Boris should call Sturgeon’s bluff, publish the full consequences to Scotland of going down the Independence route, and let the Scot’s decide. At the same time, he should insist that the SNP sign up to the fact that any third referendum will not take place before 2060.

    Should the SNP lose this second vote, they will have lost their whole reason d’etre and will surely fade back into obscurity when, free of the camouflage of the independence argument, their performance in Government comes under proper scrutiny.

    England has nothing to lose. Scotland is a sufficient financial liability under the current rules that, if they choose to leave, every year, it will just save English taxpayers more than we ever contributed to the EU.

  43. Christine
    January 26, 2021

    They want to leave now and leave the remainder of the UK with the huge debt. The SNP has already said it will not accept any share of the UK debt.

    Boris is too weak and indecisive to take our country forward. Now is not the time to be introducing crippling Green policies. He is still allowing the EU to dictate the rules and tying us in knots. Unless we show that our union is strong and has a bright future the SNP will always try to take advantage.

    You need to find a new strong leader, one with vision who will put our country first. Success will keep the Union together.

    1. turboterrier
      January 27, 2021


      Very true but out of the so called front runners to replace him who is there with the vision, trust, respect who will break us away from the policies that are really holding us back. Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Illegal Immigration and Government Waste to name but a few.

  44. MickN
    January 26, 2021

    Can we have another referendum and can the English have a vote too please.

  45. Newmania
    January 26, 2021

    It is clear to the Scots , whether or not they wish to leave the UK, that the SNP will get them the best deal
    and over represent their interest on an astonishing scale in the HOP. As a consequence the calls for a referendum will never stop .
    It is one of the many poor features of the extreme FPTP system we have that in addition to excluding large constituencies altogether , if they happen to be dispersed ( UKIP for example ) it wildly overrepresents regional Parties .
    John Redwood has frequently claimed that every vote registered against Jeremy Corbyn was a vote for Brexit . Many such voters would be horrified at his presumption but our system effectively counts them as if they were by allowing only two choices Nationally.
    The only solution is the long overdue reform of our system we need which should consider the lack of proportionality , of checks on majoritarian tyranny the unreasonable overrepresentation of regional Parties and under-representation of English views

    1. IanT
      January 27, 2021

      Go live in Italy for awhile and maybe it will modify your views on coalition government.

  46. Pud
    January 26, 2021

    I suggest giving the SNP a choice of either keeping to their word that the last referendum result was to last a generation (and therefore keeping quiet about another referendum) or a trial separation, e.g. no Barnett formula payments, no government contracts awarded to Scottish firms, basically a period of say five years in which the Scots could get an idea of what life outside of the UK would be like. During this time the SNP could publish their plans for which currency they plan to use, what border controls they want, confirmation from the EU regarding whether Scotland could join etc. At the end of the trial separation hold another referendum, if the Scottish parliament still wants one, but if there is no referendum or the result is remain there cannot be another referendum for thirty years.

  47. John McDonald
    January 26, 2021

    I am not sure that the SNP has the interests of Scotland at heart, just the political desire to Breakaway from England no matter what the financial impact will be on the people of Scotland. The oil is running out , but still have whisky and Salmon ( the fish 🙂 )
    In regard to devolution I think it is a good thing. I would like England to be treated in the same way and have it’s own Parliament too. There is an opportunity now that we are free of the EU and do not need MEP’s.
    We need a UK Parliament solely responsible for the International and Federal issues for the UK. This to fill the political and organisational hole left by departing the EU/EU Parliament.
    This will mean a reduction in the total number of MP’s plus MEP’s not an increase.
    The English Parliament would have more of a regional representation and not UK National /international.
    It takes the Englishness out of Westminster or even just the home counties view of the UK 🙂

  48. Denis Cooper
    January 26, 2021

    The SNP use Brexit as an excuse for a second independence referendum, but we are years away from having a clear idea of how it may impact on Scotland in the longer term. There are only predictions of the likely effects, and mostly doomladen partisan predictions at that, and we have already seen how such predictions usually prove to be ill-founded. So my answer would be: perhaps there should be another referendum, but not until the dust from Brexit has settled and we can form a clearer, and fact-based, view of how it is working out.

    1. IanT
      January 27, 2021

      Some common sense at last. Three weeks into really leaving the EU – with a pandemic raging across the globe – no one can really say where we will be in 12 months time – let alone 5 years.

  49. David Brown
    January 26, 2021

    Sir, I totally disagree with your comments on today’s blog. (some times I agree with you and others I def don’t agree) The current centralised system is doomed, and I hope at the next election there is a Gov championing decentralisation and entering the EU Customs Union.
    I have total support for a Federal system and entering the EU Customs Union.
    I want an end to the Union Flag.
    At the very least this debate has started and it will be youth v old – Youth wanting fundamental change and older people still in the 20th century.

  50. forthurst
    January 26, 2021

    The Scots used to want to join us in our journey; now that journey is going nowhere, why would they want to hang on? They helped us build an empire; they fought with us in two world wars on behalf of international banksters; they followed us into our post WWII Bolshevik experiment. Now having sold off the spoils of the Bolshevik state to the highest foreign bidder, there is nothing left, not that is, other than the desire to commit national suicide by flooding our country with unassimilable aliens from places with very modest positions in the GDP per capita league table.

    The Tories in Westminster live in their own world far removed from the reality of life in this country. In their world the UK is a great world power with not one but too aircraft carriers. In reality our perceived enemies regard our defence capability as a joke and our main ally regards us only as a useful sales outlet fro their defence industry and cannon fodder for their wars of choice: they are the empire now.

  51. Iain Moore
    January 26, 2021

    Gordon Brown’s plan was to dismember England to make the UK more acceptable to Scottish nationalists. So not only were the Scots voting for their own Parliament in the devolution referendum, they were voting to impose regional assemblies on England , in that case the English should have had a say in the Scottish devolution referendum.

    “Shift away from in-person voting expected if Holyrood elections go ahead in May”

    It seems our politicians have learnt nothing from the US elections. You allow mass postal voting, then you might as well wave goodbye to the UK.

    1. turboterrier
      January 27, 2021

      Iain Mòore
      Totally agree with you on postal and also add electronic voting.
      It is not asking too much once every 5 years to physically attend to vote for your next government. A physical presence at the voting station cannot be so easily open to abuse and fraudulent intentions.

  52. turboterrier
    January 27, 2021

    Sir John

    Further to my post yesterday which has not been printed, no problem with that, but as you seemed to be reading replies at this moment just to confirm.
    My thoughts on a divorce settlement with Scotland was over and above the national debt issue. The EU thankfully set a precedent which can now also apply if and when needs apply.

  53. London Nick
    January 27, 2021

    I’m sorry you chose not to publish my comment on this issue. As per your request I only generally make one contribution per topic. Perhaps you did not like my claim that Boris Johnson is the greatest enemy of the Union, but I did explain and justify it very clearly.

Comments are closed.