Scottish Daily Mail

Ministry for Union

Gove and Sunak in new Cabinet group drawn up to boost the nations of UK

- By Michael Blackley Scottish Political Editor

BORIS Johnson has launched a new drive to strengthen the Union – to be headed by two of his most senior Cabinet ministers.

The Prime Minister has set up a powerful Cabinet group which will draw up policies to boost the UK.

It will be headed by Scots-born Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is also included.

The sub-committee of Cabinet will consider how the UK Government can invest more on infrastruc­ture projects in each of the devolved nations, including in transport.

It will also look at all aspects of Cabinet policy and how it fits into devolution, and attempt to devise policies to strengthen the bonds between the home nations.

Mr Johnson has announced the move as he attempts to refocus on the key issues he wants to define his time as Prime Minister, after the battle against coronaviru­s dominated most of the year so far.

He has previously stressed that strengthen­ing the Union and ‘levelling up’ the UK are among his key priorities in Downing Street.

But the Mail can also reveal a long-awaited review into how the machinery of Government can be reformed to bolster the Union is now unlikely to be published in full.

The new Cabinet sub-committee on ‘Union policy implementa­tion’ also includes the Secretarie­s of State for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: ‘The UK Government has always been clear that strengthen­ing the Union is at the heart of everything we do, and the creation of the Union Cabinet Committee will help support that vital work.

‘The new Cabinet committee will ensure Scotland’s voice, as well as all the other voices in the UK, are heard clearly across Whitehall.’

The mission of the new group is defined as being ‘to support the delivery of the Government’s priorities in relation to the Union of the United Kingdom’.

A source said: ‘The Prime Minister is very serious about this and wants to ensure the right weight of minister is working on it.’ The source said the ‘dynamic duo’ of Mr Sunak and Mr Gove will be able to ensure the committee ‘can drive change right through Whitehall’.

One of the key issues it will discuss is how the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund – which replaces funds controlled by the EU – will be used to ‘bind’ the UK nations.

It is expected to be rebranded to mark the UK Government’s contributi­on at investment sites in the same way as European investment is currently promoted. A Whitehall source said: ‘They will go through the range of policy issues to see how policy can work more effectivel­y in the devolved nations to strengthen the Union.’

It will also look at how the UK Government works with each of the devolved nations, following some concerns about occasions when there has been poor communicat­ion on some key issues related to the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Mr Johnson previously called a crossing linking Scotland and Northern Ireland a ‘very interestin­g idea’. But the new group is likely to instead focus on other possible investment­s which could get started quickly and help boost Scotland’s hard-hit economy.

In a speech in the West Midlands today, the Prime Minister will underline his commitment to ‘build, build, build’ to upgrade

Britain’s infrastruc­ture and skills to fuel economic recovery.

The UK Government also intends to announce funds for infrastruc­ture projects in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in an effort to recover from the pandemic.

In today’s speech, Mr Johnson is

‘Drive change right through Whitehall’

 ??  ?? Top team: Boris Johnson, with Rishi Sunak, centre, will be focusing on keeping Britain together
Top team: Boris Johnson, with Rishi Sunak, centre, will be focusing on keeping Britain together

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