Tory MSP joins calls for 'federal' UK in wake of Brexit vote

Murdo Fraser
Image caption Murdo Fraser said the "time has come" for a federal UK with a written constitution

A senior Scottish Conservative MSP has called for the creation of a "federal" UK in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Murdo Fraser said the EU referendum had shown up political "disparities" and said the "time has come" for "different systems in different parts of the UK".

Labour is examining whether federalism could allow Scotland to remain part of both the EU and UK.

The Scottish government has pledged to examine "all options" to protect Scotland's relationship with Europe.

Writing for think-tank Reform Scotland, Mr Fraser called for a written constitution and the replacement of the House of Lords with a senate.

In June's EU referendum, 62% of Scottish voters backed Remain, while across the UK 52% chose Leave.

'Too centralised'

Voters in Northern Ireland and London also voted strongly for Remain, and Mr Fraser said this should be a "wake-up call to governments and politicians of all parties".

He said: "There are disparities in the way that different parts of our United Kingdom act and think politically.

Image caption Mr Fraser wants the House of Lords replaced with a senate

"Our state is still too centralised, and we need to recognise the need for different systems in different parts of the UK. If the UK is to continue, then it must be willing to continue to devolve power to its territories.

"The answer to this problem is federalism. Its time has come."

Mr Fraser proposed a system which would see "the existence of the Scottish Parliament entrenched in a written constitution", with a "de facto English parliament" sitting in the Commons at certain times.

Mr Fraser's paper comes in the wake of a speech by Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale earlier in the week, when she said that there was a "tentative" possibility of "a potential federalist solution" which could keep Scotland in the UK and the EU.

Special deal

She said: "That's what the vast majority of people in Scotland want - that's been reflected in two referendum results. People in this country voted to be part of the United Kingdom and they voted to be part of the European Union."

Ms Dugdale said Labour's former justice secretary Lord Falconer was examining how this could be possible.

Some experts have told MSPs that the "simplest and most obvious way" for Scotland to remain in the EU post-Brexit would be for it to become an independent country.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to explore all options, but said that a second independence vote was "highly likely" if all other avenues fail.

The UK's Europe Minister, David Lidington, has cast doubt on the possibility of Scotland securing a special deal, saying there was a "clear legal position" that "we have to leave the EU" - something contested by Ms Sturgeon.

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