The Conservative Party revolt against David Cameron’s promise of further devolution to Scotland grew today as one of his own ministers joined.
Claire Perry, an ally of the Chancellor George Osborne, said Scotland should not be offered “promises of financial party bags”, and criticised the “whole raft of goodies on offer for Scotland that will be paid for by us south of the border to appease the Yes voters”.
In a last-minute attempt to persuade Scots not to leave the Union, Mr Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg promised new powers for the Scottish Parliament and to safeguard the Barnett formula, which gives Scotland more public spending per head of population than England and Wales.
Ms Perry, who was appointed Rail Minister in July, wrote in her local paper the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: “If there is a proposal to allow devolution of local taxation, as well as maintaining the current level of funding as a dollop from the UK Parliament, then that can hardly be equitable for those of us in the Devizes constituency and all other area areas in the non-Scottish union.” She said that “cool, calm analysis, not promises of financial party bags to appease Mr Salmond, are what is needed from tomorrow and onwards”.
Tory backbenchers, who have already demanded an English Parliament, rallied behind Ms Perry. Anne-Marie Morris, MP for Newton Abbot, said the “devo max” policy was “not thought through” and many of her constituents felt it was unfair.
James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, said: “Talk about feeding an addiction. The more you give them, the more they want, and we would be back with calls for independence within a decade or sooner.” He added: “For too long the rights of 55m English have been subordinated to the shouting of 4.5m Scots. That must end."
Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said he would not vote for the “devo max” deal under any circumstances. “It was done in a panic when the polls narrowed,” he said. “I’m certainly not prepared to give a blank cheque to Scotland that my constituents will have to pay for.”
Michael Fabricant, a former Tory vice-chairman, said: “Even if Scotland votes No, serious questions will be asked about the complacent mishandling of the vote by No10 and the incompetence by [Ed] Miliband.”