The Conservatives intend to put “English votes for English laws” at the heart of their election manifesto unless Labour agrees to a radical reform of how the House of Commons operates, David Cameron has warned.
In an acknowledgement that his statement after the Scottish referendum result was as much about wooing voters in England as it was about reassuring voters in Scotland, the Prime Minister said that unless Ed Miliband agreed to his plan to exclude Scottish MP voting on all devolved powers he would make the issue central at the next election.
Tory strategists believe the plan is a vote winner in English marginal seats. But Labour would struggle to sign up to it, as it has 41 Scottish MPs, and could find it hard to pass legislation on issues like the NHS and education without their support in Parliament – if they win power with a narrow majority.
Speaking before his return from the United States, Mr Cameron made it clear that he believed the issue was one that did not necessarily need to be decided with cross-party consensus.
“I think Labour are making a great mistake in not understanding that if you move to a situation where Scottish MPs are able to vote on even more issues, including – potentially – tax rates, spending, welfare issues, as I said, the English question needs to be answered and you need to have English votes for English laws,” he said.
Scottish independence: Referendum results in pictures
Scottish independence: Referendum results in pictures
Chief Counting Officer Mary Pitcaithly on stage at the Highland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre with the final result of the Scottish Independence Referendum
Pro-union supporters celebrate as Scottish independence referendum results come in at a 'Better Together' event in Glasgow
A pro-independence supporter is pictured in George Square in Glasgow, following a defeat in the referendum on Scottish independence
Pro-independence supporters console each other in George Square in Glasgow
A pro-independence supporter is pictured in George Square in Glasgow
A disappointed 'Yes' campaigners reacting to Scotland's decision to stay in the union with a David Cameron mask at George Square in Glasgow
A dejected 'Yes' supporter in Edinburgh makes his way home in the early hours after Scotland voted decisively to reject independence and remain part of the Union
NO supporters celebrate at the Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh as the final results of the Scottish independence referendum are announced
No supporters celebrate their win over the Yes campaign at the Royal Highland centre during the Scottish referendum in Edinburgh
No supporters for the Scottish independence referendum celebrate a result at a No campaign event at a hotel in Glasgow
Pro-union supporters dance in celebration during a 'Better Together' referendum event in Glasgow
Anti-independence supporters react to an early strong result for the "Better Together" campaign at the Royal Highland Centre counting hall in Edinburgh
NO ballots are stacked on a table during the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh
Ballots arrive to be counted at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre during the Scottish referendum in Aberdeen
Ballot boxes arrive at the Highland Hall at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh after polls closed in the Scottish independence referendum
“At the next election, if Labour doesn’t agree English votes for English laws, there will be a very clear choice. If you vote Conservative, you’ll get both – more Scottish devolution and an answer to the English question.
“That will be our offer. It’s up to others to say what they want to do, but be in no doubt, I absolutely keep my promises to the Scottish people about further powers.”
So far Labour have only offered a constitutional convention after the next election to discuss devolution in its entirety. Meanwhile, in Scotland, police are assessing allegations that agents for the pro-union campaign breached election law by “taking tallies” of postal ballots in the weeks before the Scottish independence referendum poll.
A complaint was made to the Electoral Commission following comments made by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson after the polls closed last Thursday.
Speaking to the BBC, she said Better Together campaigners were “incredibly encouraged” by what they had seen at sample postal ballot openings.
Ms Davidson said: “We’ve had people at every sample opening around the country over the last few weeks while that’s been coming in. We’ve been incredibly encouraged by the results from that.”
She added: “There’s people in the room that have been sampling those ballot boxes as they’ve been opened, and they’ve been taking tallies and their reports have been very positive for us.”
Postal ballot openings are held to verify that the ballots are genuine and that the signature and date of birth given along with the ballots match official records.
The Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 states that ballots must be kept face down during the process and precautions must be taken to prevent anyone from seeing the votes made.
A spokeswoman for the Electoral Commission confirmed that it had received a complaint. The body has no remit to investigate breaches of electoral law and police were subsequently made aware.
A spokesman for Police Scotland said complaints were being assessed.Reuse content