The public’s trust in the way the UK is run is breaking down, former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has warned.
He said Covid-19 had exposed “tensions” between Whitehall and the nations and regions, who were often treated by the centre as if they were “invisible”.
Mr Brown is urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to set up a commission to review how the country is governed.
Polls have suggested rising support for Scottish independence and potentially for a border vote in Northern Ireland.
His intervention comes amid a looming clash between Mr Johnson and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has demanded the UK agree to another Scottish independence referendum if the SNP wins May’s election.
The Court of Session is hearing arguments about whether Holyrood can legislate to hold one even if the UK government continues to object.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly stated his opposition to another referendum while a cabinet spokesman said the Scottish public wanted to see British politicians “working in partnership to focus on defeating coronavirus”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Brown – who advocates a federal system with more power for nations and regions – says the pandemic has “brought to the surface tensions and grievances that have been simmering for years” between Downing Street and the various parts of the UK.
He points to “bitter disputes” over issues such as lockdown restrictions and furlough and said unless underlying tensions were resolved, the UK risked becoming a “failed state”.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today, he said at a time “when all should be pulling together and intensifying co-operation across the UK” there was division and claims by the leaders of Scotland and Wales and the English regions that they were not being properly consulted.
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