We will block more powers warns Tory MP

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  By a Newsnet reporter

New powers promised by all three pro-Union parties in a panic move last week may be prevented from going ahead a Conservative MP has warned.

Christopher Chope has told the BBC that there are 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 such a move.

Chope was discussing more powers on BBC Radio 4 when he was asked if he accepted that Westminster had now lost the power to veto further devolution as outlined by Gordon Brown this week.  The MP replied: “No, I don’t accept anything has been lost.  If there is a No vote then it will be the status quo”.

Challenged by the presenter that it would not be no change, Chope replied: “It will be, because we can’t change the constitution without the approval of the United Kingdom Parliament and that seems to have been lost in this debate.”

He added: “If for example the UK parliament had wanted to discuss Devo Max then the thing to have done would have been to put forward legislation on Devo Max two or three years ago so it was on the statute book and then the Scots could have been given the choice in the referendum between independence and Devo Max….

Asked if there were enough Conservative MPs opposed to more powers 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.”

Seizing on the comments SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson MP said:

“The Westminster revolt against any more powers for Scotland is up and running, and exposes the utter deceit at the heart of the No campaign that additional powers would follow a No.

“The only way Scotland can get the powers we need to create more jobs and build a fairer society is to vote Yes.

“A No vote would put Scotland’s future in the hands of Westminster Tories – and they are already preparing the ground to renege on anything Cameron, Miliband and Clegg are saying.

“And this distrusted Westminster trio are only saying it out of blind panic to try to keep their jobs – there is no genuine commitment to Scotland. We need to vote Yes as the only way to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”

Mr Chope’s admission that MPs at Westminster are prepared to block further devolution in the event of a No vote will be seen as a significant blow to the No campaign.

Last week, following a tightening of the polls, pro-Union politicians pledged a timetable which they said would see more powers come to Scotland in the event of a No vote.  The pledge, which was driven by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was rushed out after a survey showed Yes had overtaken its No rival.

However Yes campaigners said the timetable offered no guarantees that any of the three different packages proposed by each of the London parties would be implemented.

[Newsnet Scotland has started a petition to have broadcasting devolved and brought under the control of the Scottish people.  The petition can be found by clicking HERE.

We would encourage everyone to sign this petition and make others aware of its existence.  It does not second guess the referendum result but merely asks for the process, which will see broadcasting devolved, to begin.]

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