A Conservative MP who will sit on the Scottish Affairs Committee has threatened to block moves that would see extra powers devolved to Scotland.
Christopher Chope who is one of four Tory MPs on the Committee, told the BBC that the so-called Vow signed by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg before last year’s referendum was worthless and carried no weight in the House of Commons.
Speaking days before the independence referendum, Chope told the BBC that there were enough back bench Conservative MPs in Parliament who are against more powers going to Scotland in the event of a No vote and who would vote against moves to expand devolution.
The MP for Christchurch was discussing more powers on BBC Radio 4 when he was asked if the Vow meant Westminster had lost the power to veto pledges made by Gordon Brown during the final weeks of the campaign. The Tory MP replied: “No, I don’t accept anything has been lost. If there is a No vote then it will be the status quo”.
He added: “… we can’t change the constitution without the approval of the United Kingdom Parliament and that seems to have been lost in this debate.”
Asked if there were enough Conservative MPs opposed to more powers and who would vote to prevent further devolution, Mr Chope replied: “Well in isolation I’m sure there would be, because those powers would be powers for us to Scotland but there wouldn’t be any rebalance of the constitution and no discussion on some of the more basic issues that were raised in the MacKay report.”
Chope will now sit on the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster as one of seven non-Scottish representatives. He joins three Labour MPs and three Conservative MPs with four SNP MPs making up the eleven strong Committee.
Chope’s views are likely to prove controversial given the Committee’s remit which is to scrutinise the Scotland Office. Party colleague David Mundell is the sole Conservative MP in Scotland but heads the department as Secretary of State.
Mundell is already coming under pressure after refusing to accept any amendments to the Scotland Bill currently going through the Westminster Parliament. The Bill contains extra powers to be devolved to Scotland. However the SNP has claimed it fails to honour the recommendations made by the Smith Commission.
The inclusion of Chope and other Conservative MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee follows plans for so-called EVEL [English votes for English laws] which has been announced by David Cameron. The controversial move would prevent Scottish MPs having a say in matters deigned ‘English’ by the Conservative Government.
Opposition politicians have slammed the move, with SNP MPs pointing out that the Scottish budget could be adversely affected in many areas deemed solely English.
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The Ponsonby Post recommends 'London Calling: How the BBC stole the Referendum'.
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