UK could become a ‘failed state’ without reform, Gordon Brown warns

Former prime minister calls for senate of nations and regions among other reforms

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Monday 25 January 2021 09:35
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Related video: Calls for Scottish independence gain momentum

Britain risks becoming a "failed state" without serious reform to its governance structures, Gordon Brown has warned.

The former prime minister urged the government to devolve more power to regions and to replace the House of Lords with a regionally elected chamber.  

Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper Mr Brown said "the choice is now between a reformed state and a failed state".

His latest intervention comes as polls continue to show strong and consistent support for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom, which the former PM is opposed to.

Mr Brown added: "It is indeed Scotland where dissatisfaction is so deep that it threatens the end of the United Kingdom.

"For the first time, a majority of Scots now feel, according to recent polls, that Scotland and the rest of the UK are moving inexorably in opposite directions and nearly half of all Scots who have a view believe - against all the evidence - that Scotland would be better off economically independent, and they feel that the Union undermines Scotland's distinctive identity.

"While the crisis is deepest in Scotland, it is far from alone.

"Regional metro mayors - from Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool to Sheffield, Bristol and London - are demanding more powers from what they see as an insensitive, out-of-touch and overcentralised centre.

"And in Wales it is not nationalists but the pro-Union First Minister Mark Drakeford who is leading calls for change.

"But perhaps for too long we have left unstated the shared purpose and values that bind the UK together, and we have said too little about what we have in common: our shared beliefs in tolerance, liberty, civic responsibility and fairness, and our conviction that all benefit when we pool and share risks and resources across the country."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Monday morning Mr Brown said there was no democratic mandate for another Scottish independence referendum.

Asked whether he thought there was one, he said: "No, no, I don't think so.

"People in Scotland are worried about the virus, they're worried about jobs, they're worried about the future of young people, this is their priority at the moment.

"Anything that diverts from that at the moment, holding a referendum this year, in the midst of a virus when you can't even have public meetings or door-to-door canvassing, would seem quite unfair to the democratic process."

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