Gordon Brown: UK risks becoming a 'failed state'

25 January 2021, 06:24 | Updated: 25 January 2021, 07:48

Gordon Brown said the UK risks becoming a "failed state" unless it makes reforms to the union
Gordon Brown said the UK risks becoming a "failed state" unless it makes reforms to the union. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

The UK risks becoming a "failed state" unless it makes reforms to the union, former prime minister Gordon Brown has warned.

Mr Brown urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to consider ideas like replacing the House of Lords with a "senate of the regions" and to review the way the UK is governed.

It comes after The Sunday Times published the results of opinion polls in the four nations of the UK, which found a majority of voters thought Scotland was likely to be independent in the next 10 years.

In Scotland, the poll found that 49% backed independence compared with 44% against - a margin of 52% to 48% if the undecideds are excluded.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Brown said that "the choice is now between a reformed state and a failed state".

He called on the Prime Minister to set up a commission on democracy which would review how the UK is governed.

James O'Brien caller: "The Scottish independence movement is outward-looking"

Mr Brown writes: "The commission will discover that the United Kingdom urgently needs a forum of the nations and regions that brings them and Boris Johnson together on a regular basis.

"No country can have national integration without political inclusion, and the commission might start by learning from the experience of countries like Australia, Canada, Germany and America where, partly because of British influence in times past, second chambers are senates of their regions, and minorities who can easily be outvoted are guaranteed a stronger voice."

He added: "It is indeed Scotland where dissatisfaction is so deep that it threatens the end of the United Kingdom.

"For the first time, a majority of Scots now feel, according to recent polls, that Scotland and the rest of the UK are moving inexorably in opposite directions and nearly half of all Scots who have a view believe - against all the evidence - that Scotland would be better off economically independent, and they feel that the Union undermines Scotland's distinctive identity.

"While the crisis is deepest in Scotland, it is far from alone.

"Regional metro mayors - from Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool to Sheffield, Bristol and London - are demanding more powers from what they see as an insensitive, out-of-touch and overcentralised centre.

"And in Wales it is not nationalists but the pro-Union First Minister Mark Drakeford who is leading calls for change.

"But perhaps for too long we have left unstated the shared purpose and values that bind the UK together, and we have said too little about what we have in common: our shared beliefs in tolerance, liberty, civic responsibility and fairness, and our conviction that all benefit when we pool and share risks and resources across the country."

Mr Brown also said that the Prime Minister should use the Armed Forces and the NHS to demonstrate the "everyday benefits" of the union.

A Cabinet spokesman said the public in Scotland want to see the UK's politicians "working in partnership to focus on defeating coronavirus".

"That remains the top priority of the UK Government, which has supported jobs and businesses across all four nations throughout the pandemic," he added.

"The question of Scottish independence was settled decisively in 2014, when Scotland voted to remain part of the UK.

"Now more than ever, we should be pulling together to strengthen our United Kingdom, instead of trying to separate it".

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price discusses Welsh independence and coronavirus

The Sunday Times poll found that in Northern Ireland, 47% still want to remain in the UK, with 42% in favour of a United Ireland and a significant proportion - 11% - undecided.

However, asked if they supported a referendum on a United Ireland within the next five years, 51% said yes compared with 44% who were against.

In Wales, where support for independence is traditionally weakest, 23% still backed leaving the UK while 31% supported a referendum.

Wales will be offered an independence referendum within five years if Plaid Cymru commands a majority at next May's Welsh Parliament elections, the party's leader Adam Price said.

Mr Price said support for an independent Wales was now at its "highest" in history while devolution was under attack from Boris Johnson's Westminster Government.

The party leader also said the need to hold a referendum had been "accelerated" due to his belief that Scotland will become an independent nation by 2025 and that Brexit had made a united Ireland possible.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Police have released CCTV images from the Hackney shooting

Girl, 9, critically injured in Hackney shooting 'may never speak again' as police release CCTV images of motorcyclist

Jay Slater's family will fly back with his body

Jay Slater's family to return to UK with his body as his heartbroken mum begins funeral plans

English cricketer James Vince

England cricket star James Vince and his family ‘living in fear’ after home attacked twice in middle of the night

Six people were found dead at a luxury hotel in Bangkok died from cyanide

Six people who died 'foaming at the mouth' in five-star luxury Thai hotel were poisoned by drinks laced with cyanide

Live
Britain's King Charles III speaks during the State Opening of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster in London.

King's Speech Live: Starmer pledges to 'take the brakes off Britain' and 'turbo charge' housebuilding

UK inflation remains unchanged

UK inflation remains unchanged at 2% - holding steady at Bank of England's target rate

Rachel Reeves is facing calls to launch an inheritance tax raid on pension pots

Rachel Reeves faces calls to launch inheritance tax raid on pension pots in bid to raise extra £2 billion a year

Keir Starmer will reform the planning system

Local residents to lose power to block new housing as Starmer vows to 'get rid of brakes on planning system'

Exclusive
The Bibby Stockholm is now almost full with 410 people on board, LBC has learned

Mutiny on the Bibby: Migrants go on hunger strike and protests erupt on ‘hell barge’ Bibby Stockholm

A third pro is said to have been named as a 'person of interest' in the Strictly investigation

'Third Strictly professional dancer named' as 'person of interest' in investigation into abuse and bullying claims

Joe Biden has vowed to outlaw the gun used to shoot at Donald Trump

Joe Biden vows to outlaw assault rifle gunman used to shoot at Donald Trump, as he says 'politics has got too heated'

Police confirmed the human remains belonged to missing teen Jay Slater after a 29-day search

Jay Slater's mother 'wants to see him one last time' after Spanish authorities confirm body found is her missing son

Enzo Fernandez filmed himself and his Argentina teammates singing an offensive song

Chelsea star Enzo Fernandez slammed by teammate Fofana for 'uninhibited racism' after offensive chant

Boris Johnson and Donald Trump

Boris Johnson urges Donald Trump to support Ukraine in one-on-one meeting

Snipers weren't placed on the "sloping roof" used by the shooter who attempted to assassinate Presidential nominee Donald Trump over "safety concerns", the head of the US Secret Service has admitted.

Snipers weren't placed on 'sloping roof' used by would-be Trump assassin over 'safety' concerns

Jay Slater vanished in Tenerife on June 17

GoFundMe gives update on ‘next steps’ for £58,000 Jay Slater fundraiser as teen's body found