PRIME Minister David Cameron will be facing some tough questions this morning, following the Scottish referendum vote yesterday.
As the ballots were counted overnight, MPs in Westminster began to make their views on further devolution to Scotland clear, even before the result had been announced.
Rumblings from the Conservative backbenches have been getting louder over the past week, as MPs express their concern about greater powers being handed to politicians north of the border. Yesterday, Claire Perry became the first government minister to come out against devo-max plans in an article for her local newspaper.
Writing in the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald, rail minister Perry said: “Cool, calm analysis, not promises of financial party bags to appease Mr Salmond, are what is needed,” adding that the vow made by the three main Westminster party leaders to devolve tax-raising powers to Scots was “hardly equitable”.
Her concerns were echoed by MP for the City of London Mark Field, who told City A.M. that Cameron must urgently address calls for further devolution to England as part of the Scottish deal.
“Devo-max is all very well but our constituents will kick up a fuss and we don’t have a plan for that,” Field said. “Nigel Farage will step into the breach in that case. It will be an absolute gift for Farage to play the English card and will cause great damage to the two main parties,” he added.
Field expressed bemusement at how the No campaign squandered a 22-point lead in just a month over the campaign, a feeling echoed by other Tory MPs.
One senior Conservative figure said a number of members loyal to Cameron are questioning his role in the referendum debate and on devo-max, warning: “The genie can’t be put back in the box now.”
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT FOR SCOTLAND?
The Westminster government has said publicly that it has no contingency plans for a Yes vote, but that’s unlikely to be the case. The Scottish parliament on the other hand does have a timeline and could get the ball rolling. Currency, EU membership and border control will be top of the list
Alex Salmond will make a speech in Edinburgh while David Cameron will deliver his message from London. Team Scotland will gather and leaders will make plans to meet
Financial markets would probably react badly. Mark Carney is expected to make a statement on the future of the nation
Parliament in Westminster could be recalled to deal with plans for a new Scottish state. This would coincide with Labour party conference, and could see all parties abandon their annual events
Formal negotiations would begin and a timeline of 18 months set. This would make March 2016 the deadline
Westminster would likely have to call another general election in May 2016, following the departure of Scottish MPs. Many commentators have predicted that independence talks would drag on into 2017, especially over currency
While David Cameron may face tough questions from his own MPs about the further devolution he has promised to Scots, Alex Salmond may face calls to resign having lost the vote
Both Salmond and Cameron will make speeches following the result and a summit for further talks is likely to be agreed quickly
16 October will be the big day for Scotland as Gordon Brown is set to outline his plans for a form of devo-max in parliament. All three party leaders from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives have agreed to put devolution on the statute books by 25 January 2015
Further devolution for Scotland will undoubtedly spark some tricky questions for Cameron over greater powers for English cities. Some Tory MPs are planning on blocking devo-max plans for Scots which could trigger a leadership battle
Salmond has promised not to call another referendum for 20 years if he remains leader, but if he is forced out it’s possible another vote could be called, especially as the margins are likely to be narrow. The new vote would require agreement in London too though