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    A member of public flies a giant Scottish Saltire flag outside the Houses of Parliament shortly before Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon posed with newly-elected Scottish National Party (SNP) MPs during a photocall in London on May 11, 2015

    Tories Risking Break-Up of UK With 'English Votes for English Laws' Reforms

    © AFP 2019 / ADRIAN DENNIS
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    The British government has been accused of risking the break-up of the UK and treating MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland like "second class" parliamentarians after pushing through a bill that will secure 'English votes for English laws'.

    Despite opposition from other parties, the controversial proposal was passed in the House of Commons 312 votes to 270.

    Under the reforms, English MPs would be able to veto any legislation deemed just to affect England in the "consent stage," however all MPs will take part in the latter stages of ratifying a bill.

    Chris Grayling, the Conservative leader of the Commons said the reforms would unite the union, as it would level out the amount of devolution given to Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish matters.

    However, Labour party officials and representatives from the Scottish National Party (SNP) have slammed the moves, with Chris Bryant, the shadow leader of the Commons, claiming the proposals would create "confusion and division in parliament while doing nothing to give any more power to English voters over the things that matter to them."

    Labour officials warned that giving English MPs the right to veto certain forms of legislation could lead to government shutdowns and legislative passes often seen in US politics.

    Bryant added that while English voters should be given a distinct voice in parliament, the Conservatives' proposals would lead to the eventual dissolution of the union.

    "Of course there should be a distinctive English voice in Parliament, but these government proposals will create two tiers of MPs for the first time, and are a charter to break up the UK."

    Scottish MPs Angered by Changes

    MPs from the SNP were particularly angered by the moves, saying that the reforms would effectively make them "second class" parliamentarians, which would only further increase pro-independence sentiment.

     

    Pete Wishart, SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire labeled the plans "stupid."

    "Scotland is watching this and the mood is darkening. If this is an exercise in saving the Union, you could not have contrived of a more inept way to save the Union."

    Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, added to the sentiment, saying the Conservatives' proposal would "drive a wedge between our two countries greater than any that I would drive between them."

    There are also fears that the moves will politicize the role of the neutral Commons' speaker, John Bercow.

    Under the plans, the speaker will decide what is considered to be an "English law" with SNP officials warning that many laws that seem to only involve England actually have a flow on effect in other parts of the country.

    "Politicizing our Speaker is the most unforgivable thing that's been proposed in these plans. This could put the Speaker in direct conflict with Scottish Members of Parliament who don't agree with his reasons.

    "This could end up all the way in a judicial review and a review in the Supreme Court, it is a terrible thing to do to our neutral Speaker in the House of Commons."

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    speaker, change, parliamentarians, MPs, domestic politics, government, vote, criticism, independence, Scottish National Party, House of Commons, Chris Grayling, Europe, United Kingdom
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