Belfast Telegraph

Now that the Scottish referendum is over we need to shape our Union

By Jim Nicholson

Now that the Scottish referendum has ended with a decisive result that underpins the Union of the four components of the British nation, we must all seek to act in the best interests of all of our people and establish a framework to serve the United Kingdom.

It is regrettable that some of the leading personalities in the campaign are now playing the blame game.

My view is clear. London must deliver on the devolution promises made during the election campaign. Failure to do so will exacerbate matters.

I was extremely impressed with the intervention made by the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. For me, he was the star of the Better Together campaign with a meaningful and robust contribution in the latter stages of the referendum campaign that helped secure Scotland's future as part of the United Kingdom.

And, as Gordon Brown said, before and after the result was known, assurances given must be fully honoured by the three main parties at Westminster.

The nature of the Union markedly changed when devolution was granted to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

The process was lopsided, with powers varying between the three regions, while England remained untouched.

Undoubtedly, the political landscape has shifted since. The promise of greater powers for Scotland has been coupled with demands from the other regions to be included in any post-referendum settlement and the issue of English votes for English laws has now entered the political mainstream.

There is no magic formula. The Union may well change in the future, but it is up to us to help shape that change and ensure it is positive and strengthens the Union.

We must find sufficient time and expertise to ensure that proposals are sustainable in the long-term.

That means all our institutions – from Westminster to the devolved parliaments and assemblies – working in harmony to the benefit of all the people of the United Kingdom.

  • Jim Nicholson is Ulster Unionist MEP for Northern Ireland

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