Leading Tories back Gordon Brown’s plan to save the UK

Leading Tories have backed Gordon Brown’s plan to save the UK, after the SNP told Boris Johnson that a new referendum would happen on Nicola Sturgeon’s timetable. William Hague, the former Conservative leader, said that Mr Brown’s proposal for a permanent forum to hand the UK nations and regions more influence “merits serious consideration”. Andy Street, the West Midlands mayor, also backed the idea. The former Labour Prime Minister this week launched a new campaign to persuade “middle Scotland” to stick with the UK and declared he is not afraid of a new referendum, following the SNP’s landslide election win. He believes "patriotic" Scots, who are neither nationalists or committed unionists, will decide the future of the country and can be persuaded to reject separation. The UK Government does not plan to allow a new referendum to take place, but Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, dodged questions over whether Tory ministers would seek to block a new vote organised by Holyrood in the Supreme Court. Mr Brown believes a new body should be set up which would see the Prime Minister, UK First Ministers and regional mayors collaborate on key priority areas for Britain. “The Prime Minister may be stalling but support for change is growing,” Mr Brown, who welcomed support from the two Conservatives, said. “That forum, if made permanent, could be a first step to a new constitutional settlement for the UK.” In the Commons on Tuesday, Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said there was a clear mandate for a new referendum. He added: "It's the people of Scotland and our Parliament that will determine when that independence referendum will take place." He told Mr Johnson: "The Prime Minister needs to reflect on this reality. A fight with democracy is a fight he will never, not ever, win."

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Nicola Sturgeon is waging war against the Union, warns Gordon Brown

Inequality will "last until doomsday" under the SNP because Nicola Sturgeon is obsessed with waging "a war against the Union" rather than improving the lives of ordinary Scots, Gordon Brown has said. Mr Brown, a former Labour prime minister, said nationalists would not tackle the "crime" of child poverty, which the First Minister has insisted will be a priority if she is re-elected, because in reality they spend "all their waking hours trying to change our borders". Scottish Labour deployed its biggest name on the eve of the Holyrood elections at a pre-election "drive-in" rally in a car park in Glasgow Southside, where Anas Sarwar is going head-to-head with Ms Sturgeon. In a passionate speech, Mr Brown – seen as having played an influential role in defeating the separatists at the 2014 referendum – repeatedly attacked the SNP’s record in government. He said the party had been unable to address problem with mental health services, NHS waiting lists, social care and plummeting standards in education over their 14 years in government, so would "never solve the problems now" amid the challenges of the Covid pandemic. "We want to end child poverty, the SNP want to end the United Kingdom," Mr Brown, 70, told Labour activists. "They spend all their waking hours trying to change our borders, we spend all our waking hours trying to change society. "They're fighting a war against the Union, we're fighting a war against poverty, deprivation, ill health, illiteracy. I tell you this – given their obsession with independence, economic inequality and social injustice would last until doomsday if the SNP is all that confronts it."

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