Brown Swan C (2023) Scotland, Devolution and Independence: A Union at its Limits?. In: Diverse Voices in Public Law. Diverse Voices. Bristol: Bristol University Press, pp. 91-118. https://doi.org/10.51952/9781529220766.ch005
Devolution, endorsed by the Scottish electorate and delivered by the Labour government in 1999, was, in the words of George Robertson, the former Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, designed “to kill nationalism stone dead” (https://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-news/scottish-parliament-20-why-devolution-failed-kill-nationalism-stone-dead-1418095; https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-31129382). However, at the time of writing, more than two decades after the first elections to the Scottish Parliament, Scottish nationalism remains a potent force, and broader questions about the UK’s constitutional arrangements and the future of the Union remain salient. At a fundamental level, these debates speak to the understanding of power in the UK’s constitutional arrangements. Is power to be fiercely guarded at Westminster or is it to be dispersed throughout the UK? Does sovereignty sit with Parliament or with the people? These questions underpin the debates over devolution and independence, and it is not wholly clear whether the UK can accommodate these differing understandings, raising the question of whether the its famed flexibility has, at last, reached its limits.
Devolution; Self-government; Nationalism; Secession; Sovereignty
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