Gordon Brown has called for a third option to determine Scotland’s future.
He has pledged to campaign for a new form of federalism with increased powers for the Scottish parliament to ‘’unite the country’’ as it faces the prospect of a second independence referendum, and a hard Brexit from Westminster
Mr Brown used his platform at the inaugural Adam Smith Festival of Ideas in Kirkcaldy to target the third way which he says is ‘’critical to the future of our country.’’
Ther former Prime Minister and Kirkcaldy MP wants a wide range of extra powers for Holyrood.
His proposed framework would see:
>> Repatriation of powers from Europe to the Scottish Parliament so that in the key areas of agriculture, fisheries, environmental regulation and areas of employment and energy the Scottish Parliament makes the decisions.
>> Repatriation to Scotland of £800million of money now spent by European Union and;
>> Once Europe state aid rules go, new rights of the Scottish Parliament to develop its own regional policy and, if it chooses, take action in support of our own industries.
>> The ability for Scotland to set its own VAT rates
>> The right of the Scottish Parliament to independently negotiate treaties with European and other countries, on matters within its powers.
>> Guarantees to fight for Scottish industry and Scottish universities to secure access to the European Union for programmes such as Horizon, for research, and Erasmus, for students, on which the future of young people depend.
>> Guarantees that Scotland cannot be taken out of the European Court of Human Rights or the EU Social Chapter without the consent of the Scottish people.
>> The Bank of England becomes Bank of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland with fully-staffed representation in Scotland.
Mr Brown said: “With these proposed new powers let us send a message today – and I will fight for this in the weeks and months ahead – that from now on the debate on the future of Scotland will no longer be limited to two options.
“The third option, a patriotic Scottish way and free from the absolutism of the SNP and the do-nothing-ism of the Tories is now essential because post- Brexit realities makes the status quo redundant and require us to break with the past.’’
He said the status quo had been overtaken by events , adding: ‘’The third option means that Scotland is not trapped between the conservatism that would leave Scotland in Britain but not in Europe and the nationalism that would leave Scotland in Europe but not in Britain.
‘’It would ive Scotland the benefits of being in Britain while positively seeking and securing the closest possible ties with Europe.’’
Mr Brown said federalism could ‘’unite our country’’ and bring an end to what he called ‘’the bitter and divisive Yes v No conflict that will continue to rip us apart.’’
He said it was best for agriculture and fisheries, shipbuilding, North Sea oil and the country’s vital financial services.
He added: ‘’ “The third option is best for public services, including the NHS we care about, giving us the powers and resources to act. The Tories still deny us some of the powers we need. The SNP would lose the Barnett gains and deny us resources. The federal option gives us powers and keeps the resources.
“It is also best for our anti-poverty programme giving us the powers to act and the resources to do so. The Tories would deny us some of the key powers we need and the nationalists do not have the resources post-independence to cut poverty. Unlike Labour, the Tories and SNP have shown no desire to tackle inequality but under our proposals we can.
“And on defence and security,a third option is best because it allows us to support our defence industries and we still have UK resources to do so.’’
>> Mr Brown shares a stage at the Festival of Ideas, with Martha Lane Fox and Sir Gerry Grimstone, chairman of Standard Life, at the Adm Smith Theatre, Kirkcalody, at 10.00 a.m. on saturday.