If Scotland votes No on September 18th, it won’t be the end of the matter. The Unionist campaign and all three Westminster parties have all promised that more powers will pass to Holyrood if Scotland rejects independence. Cameron himself has endorsed a radical extension of the tax varying powers of the Scottish parliament.
This will exacerbate the West Lothian Question, the unfairness by which Scots MPs can still vote on devolved matters at Westminster. Traditionally, the view has been that the answer to the West Lothian question is to stop asking it. But, as I say in the column this week, this position isn’t tenable with Ukip on the march.
Ukip is already committed to an English parliament in a federal UK. It would be a major strategic error for the Tories, or Labour, to hand Nigel Farage the English card to play.
The constitutional tinkering of the last twenty years has been a disaster. Devolution has not killed Nationalism in Scotland stone dead but led to an SNP government and a referendum on independence. But the United Kingdom is where it is. The constitutional settlement that follows the Scottish referendum will have to be comprehensive and fair—and that means it must address the English question.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.