Gordon Brown to unveil plans for reform

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Former prime minister Gordon Brown will set out his ideas for the future of Scotland as political wrangling in Westminster continued over his successor’s plans for sweeping constitutional reform across the United Kingdom.

Former Labour leader Mr Brown, whose intervention in the referendum campaign has been credited with helping to secure a No vote, will spell out the next steps he wants to see in Scotland and how to heal the wounds caused by a bruising referendum campaign.

The biggest victim of the referendum battle was Alex Salmond, who announced he would quit as First Minister and Scottish National Party leader although he insisted the dream of independence “shall never die”.

While Mr Brown pleads for unity in Fife, the Better Together alliance between David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband appears to have shattered over the way the UK is governed in future.

Mr Cameron said the 55% to 45% referendum decision for Scotland to remain in the UK should put an end to the independence debate “for a generation”.

He vowed that promises made by the three main Westminster parties to devolve more powers to Holyrood would be “honoured in full”, with draft legislation in January.

But speaking on the steps of Downing Street, he made clear that they would go hand in hand with a “balanced” new constitutional settlement covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In particular, he said there would have to be reform at Westminster to address the thorny issue of “English votes for English laws”, suggesting Scottish MPs would no longer be able to vote on exclusively English issues.

Labour – whose chances of obtaining a Commons majority are likely to depend on Scottish votes – reacted warily to the plan, and Mr Miliband said the referendum victory for the pro-union camp should not be used “for narrow party political advantage”.

Mr Miliband insisted he remained committed to the devolution of powers to Scotland along the timetable set out by Mr Brown and backed by Labour, the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

But he said there should be a constitutional convention to examine the wider changes needed to reform the way the UK is governed, something that would not happen until the autumn of 2015 – after the general election.

Restive Tory backbenchers have indicated that they will force Mr Cameron to ensure that any devolution of further powers to Scotland is accompanied by change in England.

Prominent Conservatives lined up to argue for a settlement “for the whole of the UK” that would see England granted similar powers to those pledged to north of the border in the run-up to the vote.

There was also widespread criticism of the “rash promises” made in the late stages of the campaign with no mandate from the UK Parliament, particularly the commitment to honour the Barnett Formula, under which the Scots are allocated more money per head than the English.

London Mayor Boris Johnson was among the voices calling for English devolution, saying “what’s sauce for the goose has got to be sauce for the gander”.

The Government’s former top lawyer warned that it would be impossible to produce fully considered policies by January.

Former attorney general Dominic Grieve told BBC2’s Newsnight: “I think we can certainly sketch out, by January, ideas.

“But the idea that we are going to conduct the sort of exercise which, in my judgement is going to be needed if we are going to take this forward and actually get a widespread acceptance across the United Kingdom, I don’t think that’s possible.”

Meanwhile in Scotland, attention will be focused on the battle to succeed Mr Salmond – with deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon emerging as the frontrunner.

An emotionally drained Mr Salmond announced his intention to stand down as SNP leader and First Minister at a press conference in his official residence Bute House in Edinburgh after a day spent contemplating his referendum defeat.

“My time as leader is nearly over, but for Scotland the campaign continues and the dream shall never die,” he said.

But he insisted Scotland would continue to “hold Westminster’s feet to the fire” to make sure the promised extra powers were delivered.

Ms Sturgeon indicate she was not yet about to launch a formal leadership bid, although did little to disguise her ambition.

“I can think of no greater privilege than to seek to lead the party I joined when I was just 16,” she said. “However, that decision is not for today.

“My priority this weekend, after a long and hard campaign, is to get some rest and spend time with my family.

“I also want the focus over the next few days to be on the outstanding record and achievements of the finest First Minister Scotland has had.”

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