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I am delighted that the Scottish people have chosen so decisively to remain a member of the family of nations in the United Kingdom.
Their decision is good for Scotland and good for the rest of the United Kingdom. We are indeed better together.

As a former defence minister I am particularly pleased that our strong defence links on the land, in the air and at sea are to continue unbroken.

This means that significant parts of our air defences can remain in Scotland, that our army can recruit and train there, that the Royal Navy’s submarines will remain at Faslane, that the new Type 26 frigates can be built on the Clyde and that a range of important defence industries will not be forced to relocate from Scotland to other parts of the United Kingdom.

Apart from the direct benefits to Scotland as a result of their decision – new powers for the Scottish Parliament, the continued location of major UK companies and financial institutions in Scotland, the influence Scotland will retain as part of the UK and so much more – it also means that we will not all be distracted from the major challenges facing the UK and the rest of the world by a prolonged and complex negotiation of the terms of our divorce.

Our economy is mending but the job is not yet done, the threats to the stability of the Middle East needs to be focused upon and the menace of Russian expansionism need to be countered. There are major domestic challenges too – challenge such as sustaining the NHS at a time of an increasingly elderly population, ensuring the affordability of housing, securing our energy supplies and addressing the needs of the vulnerable - from exploited children to the needs of the disabled. All these challenges and more would have receive less attention than they demand if we had been distracted by the break-up of the United Kingdom.

There is, though, one pressing issue that does now demand our attention as a result of the referendum and the promises made to Scotland during it – the governance of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There is time to get this right, but the principle of “English Votes for English Laws”, which I have long advocated, does need to become a reality as soon as practicable.

The Mackay Commission on this question reported last year when the issues appeared less pressing; I will be looking at its recommendations again – they can be viewed here:

I would welcome the views of my constituents which I will listen to very carefully.

The Scottish question has been answered for a generation. Now it is time to answer the English question.


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