Yesterday the Hastings MP, Sally-Ann Hart asked a question which was sadly not answered very well by Chloe Smith who is the Assistant Whip for the Cabinet Office and is the MP for Norwich North. Clearly for a Hastings MP to ask about the United Kingdom Union demonstrates that someone representing people in the South East of the UK is able to ask questions about people who live and work in the land masses in the West and North which is fantastic given that so often MPs claim their focus is only for the people they represent and that they will not deal with issues that are raised outside of their constituency. Thank you Sally-Ann and you deserve appreciation. However it is unlikely that Sally-Ann would have been willing to embrace the correct answer if Chloe Smith had given a reasonable response. The question which came in two parts was
1. What steps the Government are taking to strengthen the Union. 2. The rich tapestry of our precious Union is woven together by the threads of our individual cultures, languages, traditions and values, creating the most successful political, social and economic Union in the world. So what steps is my hon. Friend taking to reach out to the devolved nations to show how much we value them as part of our great United Kingdom, on a cross-party basis?
Now clearly strengthening the union does need a willingness for the English dominated Government which is the British Government to treat England and our voters as being one part of the wider Union. Treating Scottish residents and Irish residents as though their views don’t matter when it comes to the 2016 referendum is deeply problematic. The views in Scotland were the strongest but the position in Ireland is much more complex. So if we are treating the Union as somewhere to strengthen we need to go back to the views expressed back in June 2016 and pay attention to it now. Indeed the Welsh position although consistent with the English position in 2016 is now also closer to Northern Ireland and Scotland than it was in 2016. Come to think of it the need to take on board what the English views are now is also important given how many changes Sally-Ann and Chloe have voted for in recent days.
The answers from Chloe are as follows
1. The Government have an unwavering commitment to our Union, as demonstrated by the £190 billion of measures that the Chancellor has already introduced to protect jobs throughout the UK. We are strengthening our Union even further by taking steps to ensure the free flow of trade and ensuring that powers return from the EU directly to the devolved Administrations. In addition, we are committed to concluding the review of intergovernmental relations, to ensure that our structures are improved and adaptable for our Union, both now and in future. 2. My hon. Friend makes the point extremely well. We have confronted the recent pandemic as one United Kingdom and have achieved more together than we could have done as individual nations. That unity has been reaffirmed through the joint statements of 25 September. As I said, we have taken significant steps to protect the economy, providing billions of pounds to protect lives and livelihoods in all parts of the UK. As I mentioned in my earlier answer, the way in which we are taking our intergovernmental relations forward will show how committed we are to those relationships and to making sure that they are positive today and tomorrow.
So clearly if the Government has an unwavering commitment and intergovernmental relations they need to reverse back to the 24th June 2016 and before we leave the EU they need to see what can be done to allow the three other parts of the UK remain committed to the EU and indeed it is time for our views to be heard given how things have gone very badly wrong since 12th December 2019.