Davidson claims ‘Londoncentric’ UK threatens the union
RUTH Davidson believes that hoarding too many powers in London could cause “cracks” in the Union.
Davidson will use her speech to the UK Tory conference today to admit that Britain has become too “Londoncentric”.
She will tell the conference in Manchester: “We live in a country where the property values of London’s top 10 boroughs are worth more than all of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales combined.
“Where you can sell up a threebed semi in Ilford, and buy half of Sutherland.”
To support the Union, Davidson will call for a greater spread of civil service and public bodies across the UK.
She will admit that even after 20 years of devolution London still dominates the UK in a way that other world capitals such as Washington DC or Berlin do not. The Scottish Tory leader will warn her party that supporters of independence
would use those failings to “pull us apart for good”.
She will say: “Devolution of power has transformed our nation for the better. It has put power closer to people. But at the same time – while we’ve built vigorous new devolved structures, we’ve not done enough to nurture that which binds us.
“As the Prime Minister said in Scotland earlier this year, all too often Whitehall devolves and forgets.
“And the danger is that we become a country that stays together, but lives apart. With the cracks exploited by those who would pull us apart for good.”
Davidson will argue that more UK institutions and public servants must be moved away from London to other cities – remarking that the capital has “enough civil servants to fill Wembley stadium”.
In her speech, Davidson will say: “Let’s absolutely press on with more devolution. But it’s time for a bit more Union too.
“But the truth is: for all the devolution of power in the last 20 years, our Union continues to be far too London-centric.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford hit back saying the Tories could not be trusted to devolve powers away from London.
He said: “Davidson’s comments are nothing more than a diversion and an attempt to take the focus away from the complete failure of the Tories to deliver for anywhere but southeast England.”
In other developments, Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said the party’s 13 Scottish MPs should distance themselves from its UK leadership.
He campaigned to scrap the name Scottish Conservatives in a bitter contest with Ruth Davidson to lead the party in 2011 and has now reopened the row as the UK Tory conference begins.
He stopped short of repeating his call for a centre-right breakaway from the UK Tories, but he said the party must embrace a “nationalist Unionism” and “Liberal Unionism” to create a separate identity.