Is devo-max a credible option for Scotland?

Many people ask; “why can’t we just have devo-max?”. We researched the facts and found the following: 

The truth

Devo-max remains a largely undefined term, and therefore, unlike federalism, does not offer a defined constitutional solution. Devo-max would also have to be voted for by the House of Commons to be implemented and thus, is not up to Scotland to decide. Like federalism, devo-max would involve Scotland’s political power still being limited by a central government outside of Scotland.

The facts

Verdict

Devo-max is another political promise that has almost zero support within Westminster and so will never be fulfilled; a promise made in an attempt to decrease the support for independence in 2014. The term remains largely undefined, and even if we consider the commonly used definition, it is still unworkable. Three key areas, defence, foreign policy and benefits, would likely be retained by Westminster. These are areas that the Scottish Government and population largely disagree with Westminster on.

Although the UK parliament would not normally legislate on a devolved matter, it does have the power to do so. Therefore, even if devolution was enhanced, the limitations of devolution would still exist, and this is another problem with the concept. Moreover, devo-max or full fiscal autonomy requires the support of Westminster to be granted. It was demonstrated in 2015, when an attempt to include FFA in the Scotland Bill was rejected, that MPs are not willing to support devo-max.

Devo-max can often be confused with the term federalism. Read our FAQ on federalism here.

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