Tory Mayor Boris Johnson demands ‘devo-max’ for London

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By Andrew Barr
 
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said UK Government ministers have been “very receptive” to his demands for a devo-max settlement for London.
 
The outspoken Tory figure said that London should no longer be a “cash cow” for other regions of the UK and argued that the city’s taxes should be kept and spent locally.

By Andrew Barr
 
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has said UK Government ministers have been “very receptive” to his demands for a devo-max settlement for London.
 
The outspoken Tory figure said that London should no longer be a “cash cow” for other regions of the UK and argued that the city’s taxes should be kept and spent locally.

Whilst there is now vocal Conservative support for devo-max in London, the party remains largely opposed to the same rights being granted to Scotland.

Last year, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson insisted upon a “line in the sand” for devolution in Scotland.  However, these new Conservative proposals for devo-max in London would grant the city with powers that far exceed the current Scottish settlement.

The proposals for granting more self-determination to a single city than to a nation such as Scotland raise many difficult questions about the nature of the British establishment.

SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP said: “Boris Johnson has set the cat amongst the pigeons with his plans for devo-max for London.  The Tories now need to explain why they are saying ‘yes’ to powers for London and ‘no’ to powers for Scotland.

“Mayor Johnson’s manifesto for London adds to the increasingly confused position of the Tories in Scotland.  It’s no wonder the Tories could not even agree on a submission to their own government’s consultation on the referendum – leaving them the only party not to make a submission.

“Boris Johnson’s arguments for London are even stronger for Scotland – with the latest Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland figures (GERS) showing that, last year alone, Scotland was in a stronger financial position than the UK as a whole to the tune of nearly £2.7 billion – or £510 for every man, woman and child in Scotland.”

Mayor Johnson’s support for keeping London’s finances in the city also seems to contradict Unionist policy for the UK Treasury to directly receive every penny generated from Scotland’s vast natural resources.

Mr Johnson said: “London is the powerhouse of the UK economy and it is time to look at formally recognising that and make sure hard-pressed and hard-working Londoners get the benefit of their contribution.”

There is a possibility that a devo-max settlement for London would increase support for devolution in other parts of England.  This would go some way to defend left-leaning regions such as the North from right-wing central government policy.

In February, Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond told a Liverpool audience how England’s regions could benefit from Scotland regaining its independence.  He said independence would lead to a “rethinking of the structures of the rest of the UK” and end to London-centric British politics.

The First Minister added: “It would be for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to decide how this came about, but the end result would surely reflect the needs of the English regions better than the current arrangements.”