Local Liberal Democrats lead call for Federal United Kingdom at Party’s UK Autumn Conference

Local Liberal Democrats have succeeded in getting a landmark motion on the future of the United Kingdom passed by the Party’s Annual Conference. The motion, entitled The Creation of a Federal United Kingdom, was put forward by Rutherglen & Hamilton West Liberal Democrats and commits the Party to campaign for a reformed, federal United Kingdom.

Rutherglen Liberal Democrat Councillor Robert Brown, speaking to the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference on Saturday said that a modern, federal United Kingdom is the Liberal Democrat “Third Way” – the alternative to both the separatists who want to break up Britain and the incompetent Government of Boris Johnson. After a lively debate the motion was passed by a large majority.


Councillor Brown, who is Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on South Lanarkshire Council, said:

“Liberal Democrats have a different and better offer to people – a functioning democracy, a modern, federal UK – an alternative both to the siren calls of the separatists who would break up our country and the incompetent, amoral Government of Boris Johnson, arrogantly contemptuous of the Rule of Law, under whose watch the very foundations of the United Kingdom are being undermined and allowed to rot.

Our United Kingdom is worth fighting for; it is one of the world’s most successful partnerships enduring in good times and bad for over 300 years. But if our Union is to endure, as Abraham Lincoln might have said, it must build itself anew on the nations and regions of the United Kingdom – a federal United Kingdom which brings to the fore our country’s best, most diverse and most outward looking values and traditions - and provides the dynamic and inspirational alternative to the divisive nationalisms of Brexit and secession which are currently so damaging to our country’s welfare and future.

We want to see a new relationship between the Scottish Government and the Westminster government, based on partnership and respect, not the eternal constitutional wrangling which has been so damaging. We need solid mechanisms for partnership between Westminster and the nations and regions modelled on similar mechanisms in other federal countries like Canada, Australia or Germany.

Wherever Liberal Democrats have power and influence, we shall use it to demand and help build a new United Kingdom - more balanced between its different parts, more dynamic to build new opportunities for our young people, more suited to the diverse needs of the 21st century, offering ownership of our democracy to all the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.

If we have influence in the Scottish Parliament, Liberal Democrats will use the power and influence of the Scottish Government - not to break up the UK as the SNP are seeking - but as leverage to demand federal reform, backed by Liberal Democrat leaders up and down the country. “




Text of Motion:

The Creation of a Federal United Kingdom

Rutherglen & Hamilton West Liberal Democrats


Conference notes that:

  1. The future cohesion and existence of the United Kingdom is threatened by a sense of alienation and powerlessness amongst many of our citizens which has fuelled Brexit and the growth of nationalism;
  2. The Covid 19 crisis and Brexit have demonstrated both the value of the United Kingdom and the damaging inadequacies of its current constitutional arrangements;
  3. Most people across the United Kingdom have multiple identities which they recognise to varying degrees and which should be reflected in the institutions of government;
  4. There is growing support for constitutional reform across the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.

Conference believes that:

  1. The constitution of the United Kingdom is not fit for the needs of a 21st century liberal democracy;
  2. The best way to ensure the continued union between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland is to create a truly federal United Kingdom, as long advocated by Liberal Democrats;

Conference calls for:

  1. A Declaration that the United Kingdom is a Federal Union that exists by the consent of the people of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland where the founding principles of the Union are:
    1. Democratic government based on Liberal values in compliance with the European Convention of Human Rights and which fully respect the diverse identities of our people,
    2. An equitable distribution of resources between different parts of the United Kingdom based on their respective needs,
    3. A duty of co-operation on both the Federal and State governments to work for equality of opportunity, guarantee the essentials of a decent life for our citizens, tackle climate change and meet the challenges of a global economy, and
    4. Subsidiarity so that the Federal Parliament does not have the power to legislate in areas of competence of the Parliaments of the nations and regions of the Union without their consent and that the exercise of public responsibilities is decentralised as much as reasonably practicable.
  2. Early measures to implement the Federal Declaration including –
    1. Creating a Declaration of Rights as a foundation document of a Federal United Kingdom which includes a new, modern, inclusive definition of citizenship
    2. Enactment and endorsement of the Federal Declaration by Westminster and the Parliaments and Assemblies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
    3. Creation of a United Kingdom Constitutional Convention to lead the creation, on a wide civic and popular basis, of a written constitution for Britain.
    4. The election of the House of Commons by Single Transferable Vote and replacement of the House of Lords by an Upper House with a proper democratic mandate on a basis that represents the nations and regions of the United Kingdom.
  3. The creation of powerful institutions to encourage and enable co-operation between the governments and parliaments of the various parts of Britain that would include:
    1. Creating a United Kingdom Federal Council of Ministers to enable the governments and parliaments of the various parts of the Union to work better, building on the work of the joint Ministerial Committees,
    2. A power for one government to request formally that another take specific necessary action to facilitate policy objectives in an area where the other government has the policy lead,
    3. A duty on the Federal Government to consult with the governments of the particular parts of the Union on federal policies that would impact on their statutory responsibilities,
    4. Reform of United Kingdom-wide institutions to enable them to serve all governments and parliaments within the United Kingdom.
  4. The transfer of additional powers to the Senedd Cymru/Parliament of Wales to create broad parity with the powers of the Scottish Parliament including the creation of Wales as a distinct legal jurisdiction
  5. Liberal Democrats in positions of power or influence in the Scottish Parliament, Senedd Cymru/Parliament of Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly, and as Mayors or regional or community leaders across the United Kingdom to collaborate in campaigning and using their influence to build a federal United Kingdom.

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