Sep 22, 2014 12:09 PM
UK premier hosts talks on Scottish voting rights
The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) British Prime Minister David Cameron sought Monday to limit the divisive political fallout following the Scottish referendum, gathering senior Conservatives at his official country retreat to placate anger over promises made to Scotland to keep it in the United Kingdom.
Britain's politicians now have the headache of mapping out how to implement the new powers pledged to Scotland and how that impacts the rest of the realm England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Here is a guide to the issues being discussed.
WHAT IS THE 'ENGLISH QUESTION?'
Cameron's main problem is anger over the "English question," or the "English votes for English laws" issue.
That refers to the question of whether Scottish lawmakers elected to the House of Commons can continue to vote on policies that only affect England a longstanding grievance in the U.K.'s system.
The Cameron-led Conservative Party is upset that its leader, together with the two main opposition parties, promised to allow the Scottish Parliament to decide on their own tax, spending and welfare issues in a last-minute attempt to encourage voters to reject independence.
The Tories argue that if Scots get that package, then other parts of the U.K. should also be granted similar powers.
Conservative John Redwood said that some party members feel that "we too need our own devolved government to balance the kingdom."
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SCOTLAND?
Cameron has drawn an acrimonious backlash for suggesting that handing power to the Scots should take place "in tandem" with a decision on constitutional reforms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Danny Alexander called Cameron's position "deeply frustrating."
Cameron's office has since stressed that it will honor the promise made last week.
But there is no consensus among the parties on the way forward. That doesn't bode well for Scotland, which was promised legislation setting out the transfer of powers by mid-2015.
Many say that is an impossible timeline because there is simply no quick fix to constitutional changes that affect the whole of the U.K.
Alex Salmond, the Scottish independence leader, has said Scottish voters are angry and hurt by the political fallout, and claimed they have been "tricked" into voting to stay in the union.
Cameron is now in a bind to calm the rebellion within his own ranks and has to convince the public he hasn't backtracked on a promise.
But the opposition Labour Party, which is seeking a return to power in next year's general election, stands to lose the most in the fallout. The party, which has 41 of Scotland's 59 lawmakers, will suffer from any measures to restrict Scottish voting rights.
Opposition leader Ed Miliband refused to back or reject Cameron's stance, only saying he would be open to the idea of greater scrutiny by English lawmakers.