referendum: Gordon Brown vows ‘powers will be delivered’

SHAFAQNA –  In a speech in Fife, the former prime minister said it was time to move from the “battleground to the common ground” following Thursday’s “No” vote He added: “We will lock in today the promises that we have made”.

Politicians in England and Scotland are considering how the UK will be governed in the future.

Mr Brown spoke of three “lock ins” which he said demonstrated that promises would be kept:

  • a resolution has been signed by David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and Mr Brown committing to a timetable of action including draft legislation for a new Scotland Bill by the end of January. It will be lodged in the House of Commons on Monday.
  • civil servants were already at work drawing up a timetable and detailed plans so that a “command paper” setting out new powers can be published by the end of October.
  • a House of Commons debate to be held on Thursday 16 October to ensure the plans are on track.

In Manchester, delegates at Labour’s conference gather as the party forms its response to the “No” vote fallout.

And the SNP faces a change of leadership after First Minister Alex Salmondannounced he is to stand down.

Thursday’s result has already seen significant disagreement over the timing and extent of further devolution.

Labour leader Ed Miliband has made it clear that he is not likely to sign up to Prime Minister David Cameron’s proposals to give new powers to English MPs.

He instead wants a nationwide constitutional convention to come up with ideas, convening next autumn.

Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing a system where only MPs from England would vote on English issues in Parliament.

He has also said the three main Westminster parties will deliver their campaign pledge to boost the powers of Scotland’s devolved parliament.

But, by linking the promise of further devolution to Scotland with the question of “English votes for English laws”, some in Labour fear Mr Cameron is setting them a trap, said BBC political correspondent Robin Brant.

‘Voices heard’

The prime minister has asked Lord Smith of Kelvin, who led Glasgow’s staging of the Commonwealth Games, to oversee the process to take forward the commitments on extra powers for Scotland, with new powers over tax, spending and welfare to be agreed by November, and draft legislation published by January.

He has also spoken of the implications for the other nations of the UK, and said “millions of voices of England must also be heard”.

Mr Miliband has said Labour also wanted “significantly greater devolution of power in England”, but said it was important not to offer a “knee-jerk reaction”.

Referendum reaction

In the wake of Scotland rejecting independence, Mr Salmond announced on Friday that he would resign as SNP leader at the party’s conference in November, before standing down as first minister when the party elects its next leader in a membership ballot.

The 59-year-old told journalists there were a “number of eminently qualified and very suitable candidates” to replace him, with his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, seen as a clear favourite.

He is Scotland’s longest-serving first minister, having held the post since the SNP won power at the Scottish Parliament in May 2007.

He has also served as leader of the SNP for a total of 20 years.

He will stay on as MSP for Aberdeenshire East, and described serving Scotland as first minister as the “privilege of my life”.

On Saturday morning, Rupert Murdoch tweeted: “Alex Salmond’s sudden resignation makes him most honest politician in Britain. Actually he seems to have changed country’s future.”

The media mogul followed it up with another tweet about the promise of more powers.

He wrote: “Cameron’s promise of devolution, now for all parts of country, without consulting cabinet, clever politics, but divisions in all parties.”

First Minister, Alex Salmond: “For me as leader my time is nearly over”

Scottish Labour will be seeking to make ground on the SNP after helping to win a “No” vote on Thursday.

Mr Brown has been credited in some quarters with helping to stall the “Yes” surge in the latter stages of the campaign.

What the ‘No’ vote means at home and abroad

On referendum night, 28 of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas voted in favour of staying in the UK.

Glasgow, Scotland’s largest council area and the third largest city in Britain, voted in favour of independence by 194,779 to 169,347 but registered the lowest turnout in the country.

Edinburgh, the nation’s capital, clearly rejected independence by 194,638 to 123,927 votes,.

Across Scotland, 84.6% of registered voters cast their ballot in the referendum – a record for a national election.

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