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PM: No vote will trigger ‘real change’

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15th Sep 2014
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A No vote on Thursday will trigger “a major, unprecedented programme of devolution”, with major new powers over tax for the Scottish Parliament, the prime minister said this afternoon after a poll revealed that almost half of Scottish voters do not believe the main UK parties’ pledge on the transfer of powers.

The survey conducted by Opinium for The Observer found that if Scotland were to remain part of the UK the main concern for 47% of respondents was “the UK parties not following through on their promise”.

“That level of distrust is striking given that the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders have signed a joint declaration for the further transfer of tax and spending powers,” said a Financial Times report this morning.

Addressing Conservatives in Aberdeen this afternoon, Cameron said “business as usual” was not on the ballot paper. “The status quo has gone – the campaign has swept it away … A vote for No means real change.

“We’ve spelt out that change in practical terms, with a plan and a process. A No vote will trigger a major, unprecedented programme of devolution, with additional powers for the Scottish Parliament. Major new powers over tax, spending, some welfare services.

“We’ve agreed a timetable for that stronger Scottish Parliament, a timetable to bring in the new powers that will go ahead if there’s a No vote. A white paper by November, put into draft legislation by January, a timetable now agreed by all the main political parties and set in stone.”

Cameron said he was prepared to work with the other main parties to deliver reform “during 2015”. He argued that a No vote would mean “faster, fairer, safer and better change” than a vote for independence.

Last week the prime minister was reported to be facing a “backlash” from English and Welsh MPs who “accuse him of handing over too many powers to Scotland in his desperate attempt to keep the Union together”.

“Northern MPs are particularly worried because gold-plated arrangements for Scotland, such as freedom to control income tax, would give Scottish towns an advantage over their rivals south of the border,” The Times reported.

The paper quoted an unnamed northern Conservative MP as saying: “This is absolutely terrible. It hangs the north. We have to sort out some sort of devolution settlement now.”

The Conservative MP John Redwood was reported to have the backing of more than 100 colleagues for his campaign for more powers to be given to England. “The case for an English Parliament is overwhelming,” Redwood wrote last week.

Redwood, a former Welsh secretary, told the BBC this morning: “I'm fed up with this lop-sided devolution, this unfair devolution. Scotland gets first class devolution, Wales gets second class devolution and England gets nothing.”

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