Rennie tackles “twin horrors” of Conservative and SNP Governments and call for wide-ranging reform of the UK.

As Nicola Sturgeon lays out her plans for her next steps for holding another independence referendum, Scottish Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie has given a speech to Students for Britain where he will say that reforming the UK, not breaking it up is the way to unite our country.  

In his speech Mr Rennie said that the UK establishment needs to understand that the status quo is not sustainable and that we need voting reform, an elected second chamber, a written constitution and a federal UK. 

Mr Rennie said

“Liberal Democrats have always been reformers.

“Our ideals are longstanding about decentralised power, where every citizen has a vote that has equal power wherever they live.

“The last six weeks have shown that it is high time to reform the UK with changes to the voting system, an elected House of Lords, a written constitution and Federalism.

“A government elected with a big majority with less than half the votes, enacting Brexit in the face of the evidence that a majority of the public don’t want it to happen.

“Defeated government ministers appointed to the House of Lords.

“Three devolved administrations democratically voting to withhold consent from the Withdrawal Act, with no impact.

“We are stuck with a party in the UK, the Conservatives, with 45% of the vote but masses of MPs claiming the right to do whatever it wants, however destructive on the constitution.

“We also have a party in Scotland, the SNP, on 45% of the vote but with masses of MPs  claiming the right to do whatever it wants, however destructive on the constitution.

“Twin horrors. Mirror image governments. Each taking a falsely-claimed mandate for their own ends.

“The evidence is mounting, change must come, it has got to stop.

“So I think there is an opportunity to build a broad case for reform of the United Kingdom.

“The 55% who don’t want the Conservatives in the UK and the 55% that don’t want the SNP-Independence will be immediately interested in this. And, in fact, everyone else may want to make sure they are never on the losing side of such unfairness in the future.

“It is something that can have broad appeal.

“This needs to happen soon. The UK Government after Brexit will be trying to draw up policy frameworks on devolved matters that will apply across the United Kingdom.  On agriculture and food standards for example.

“It is essential that the UK Government makes sure that all four administrations have a meaningful part to play in developing and agreeing these new policies. They mustn’t be steamrollered. There has to be a proper way to resolve disputes.

“The standoff last week between the devolved administrations refusing consent for the devolved aspects of the Withdrawal Act and the UK Government pressing ahead regardless must not be repeated.

“It is the idea of federalism. Where different governments have different responsibilities, yet where they are compelled to co-operate and agree when their work overlaps.

“That should be underpinned by a voting system that represents every vote in parliament, a second chamber elected by the people, a written constitution that ensures the country is run by a set of enduring laws and rules, and a federal structure that shares power across the United Kingdom rather than hoarding it in Westminster.

“Now is the time for change and the Liberal Democrats will make that case."

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