A federal United Kingdom could be a “constructive third way” between calls for independence and a “centralising” Westminster government, a Scottish Liberal Democrat MP has said.
Wendy Chamberlain, who won the North East Fife seat from the SNP in December’s general election, said the row over the UK Government’s Internal Market Bill had shown power must not be “hoarded” in London
She said politicians must concede Westminster “does not have all the answers”.
Ms Chamberlain said: “Now more than ever we need a fair distribution of responsibilities and resources across the UK and co-operation between federal and state governments, with proper dispute resolution mechanisms for when they disagree.”
She was speaking ahead of the party’s virtual conference, which will include a call for Liberal Democrats across the UK to campaign for a federal settlement.
Ms Chamberlain, the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman for Scotland and Wales in the House of Commons, said: “The idea to reform the UK to a federal future is a constructive third way between a centralising Westminster government and a dash for independence from the nationalists. It replaces division with co-operation.”
The UK Government’s Internal Market Bill has attracted criticism from the SNP Government, and the Labour administration in Wales has also raised fears about the impact it would have on devolution.
Ms Chamberlain said: “The outrage in all corners of the UK at the proposed centralised Internal Market Bill is a clear example where power needs to be shared across the governments and not hoarded at Westminster.
“The Liberal Democrats believe wholeheartedly in supporting a reformed union between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We believe that this is threatened by a political system which feels out of date and centralised, and has fuelled Brexit and the growth of nationalism.
“The old-fashioned, out-of-touch Westminster must concede it does not have all the answers.”