November 22, 2020


Boris Johnson: The very complicated structure of the government of Great Britain is something that baffles people all over the world, especially Americans, who chose to take an entirely different route about their governing bodies and fashions nearly three hundred years ago.

According to reports appearing all over British news media, incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson allegedly told Tory MPs on Monday that Devolution has been a “disaster” in Scotland. This apparent show of disrespect for the Devolution bodies comes at an uncomfortable moment for the PM, as he faces constant attacks for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK and the continuing stresses of independence pushes in Scotland.

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The term Devolution is one that might not be entirely familiar for readers outside the United Kingdom, and for understandable reasons. Let us first address the meaning and implications of the term:

What is Devolution?

  • Devolution is the name given to the measures by which the UK government redistributed the powers that were once held by Westminster onto newly elected bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Some of these special powers include local management of housing, health services, transport and emergency-dealing entities like fire departments. Unlike other parts of the UK, Scotland has always enjoyed separate legal and education systems.
  • Devolution was the direct outcome of public voting held back in 1997 in Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland joined the measures after the execution of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. 
  • The UK government based at Westminster has kept some powers, including those pertaining to national defense, foreign policy and taxation.

A “Disaster”

Johnson’s harsh words on devolution were linked to his misgivings about the Scottish National Party’s apparent mishandling of resources  for education and public services.

Once the news broke out about Johnson’s comments regarding devolution in Scotland, No. 10 was quick to deny having ever made such utterances. While addressing a body of Scotish Conservatives, the PM said that he only “criticized the performance of the devolution… I don’t want to oppose devolution as a concept in itself.”

However, the Scottish National Party, the ruling party in England’s northern neighbor, decried Johnson’s words as “weasel words”, and a clear attempt to clean up after his faux pas.

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