MICHAEL Gove is backing major constitutional reform in a bid to save the Union, it has been reported.

According to the Times, the Cabinet Office minister wants to scrap highly controversial English Votes for English Laws (Evel) legislation.

Introduced by David Cameron after the 2014 independence referendum, it states that bills, amendments and clauses of legislation affecting England alone must be approved by a majority of English MPs. Scottish MPs can vote on laws applying only in England, though such bills would require a double majority – consisting of all MPs and of those representing English constituencies.

The mechanism – which was suspended in April last year to simplify Commons proceedings during the pandemic – has long been criticised by the SNP.

Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues have pointed out that many English-only laws do have an impact on Scotland because Holyrood’s funding via the Barnett formula is determined by spending south of the Border.

The legislation has also been opposed by the Scottish Tories since 2017. They have warned it provides the SNP with “a stick to beat” the UK Government.

Gove has now proposed to Cabinet colleagues that the mechanism be abolished, to make Parliament work “for every part of the UK and every party in the UK”.

READ MORE: Michael Gove vows major government overhaul over Covid 'weaknesses'

He told the Times: “Ultimately, it’s a convention which arose out of a set of circumstances after the 2014 referendum, where you had a coalition government and so on.

“We’ve moved on now, so I think it’s right to review where we are on it … My view is that the more we can make the House of Commons and Westminster institutions work for every part of the UK and every party in the UK, the better.”

The plan has won support from Scottish Secretary Alister Jack but is opposed by two senior Cabinet members.

The National: Alister Jack

It would give Scottish MPs, and in some cases Welsh and Northern Irish MPs, the option to have a say on English legislation in areas devolved to their own parliaments, such as justice, schools and the NHS.

Gove, who is leading Downing Street’s efforts to stop Scottish independence, added: “We have been throughout Covid operating without English Votes for English Laws. And I think that’s worked well, and I think that we can reflect on the lessons of operating without the need for English votes for English law.

“But obviously it can’t just be a unilateral decision by any individual, it has to be considered one that is put forward and accepted by the Commons as a whole.”

However, the proposal was rejected by Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

A Whitehall source commented: “Abolishing Evel would reaffirm the fundamental constitutional principle that we are one United Kingdom, with a sovereign parliament comprising members elected on a basis of equality, representing every community in the land, able to make laws for the whole kingdom.”

READ MORE: SNP MPs protest as Evel used for first time in Commons

Evel was used for the first time in the Commons in January 12, 2016, when Scottish MPs were barred from voting on aspects of the government’s Housing and Planning Bill.

The SNP’s Pete Wishart said during that heated Commons session: “This is a remarkable day. It is worth noting how significant and historic this is. For the first time in the history of this House and this Parliament, Members of Parliament will be banned from participating in Divisions of this House, based on nationality and the geographic location of their constituencies.

“Nothing has infuriated the Scottish people more than the measures on English votes for English laws.”