LABOUR’S reforms to the UK, which will provide an “enhanced” role for Scotland as part of the new arrangements, will answer “people’s desire for change”, former prime minister Gordon Brown has insisted.

The former Labour leader said the changes he was recommending in a new review of the UK would “make Britain work for Scotland”.

The package of measures, outlined in Labour’s Commission on the UK’s Future report, could be key in winning the support of voters who are not committed to independence but still want to see change, he claimed.

Brown and party leader Keir Starmer are to unveil the report – which the former prime minister headed – at a joint press conference in Leeds today.

The National: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Angel Cafe in All Saints Church, Beacon Centre in Chafford Hundred, Essex to meet parents and discuss the impact of the cost of living crisis on families. .Picture date: Friday October 28, 2022. PA Photo.

However, it was already attracting pre-emptive backlash due to undelivered Labour promises in the past and a tendency to wheel Brown out on an annual basis.

Noting Brown’s claim that abolition of the House of Lords must be a key part of Labour’s plans for the future, SNP depute leader Keith Brown said that it was the “10,000th time they have committed to reform the House of Lords”.

Alba Party general secretary Chris McEleny also dismissed the “latest Brownhog Day intervention”.

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Speaking ahead of his report’s publication, the former PM said: “The debate people think they may have been having in Scotland in the last seven or eight years has been between independence and the status quo.

“The nationalists were telling people the only kind of change was independence. Now we are making it absolutely clear with this Commission report that the debate now is between change within the UK that we are proposing and that a Labour government will deliver, versus change by leaving the UK, which is what the nationalists propose.”

He pledged Labour would abolish the existing House of Lords and replace it with a new democratic upper chamber – which he claimed would have a key role in maintaining the devolution settlement by protecting the Sewell Convention, which states Westminster should not normally legislate in devolved areas without consent – though this has not deterred recent UK governments.

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He promised greater fiscal autonomy with increasing borrowing powers for Scotland, and also said: “There will be new powers for the Scottish Government to enter into international agreements and join international bodies in relation to devolved areas of competence.”

Brown described this as “an attempt to show Scotland can play its part in the world as well as play its part in the UK”.

His report recommends control over job centres be devolved to Scotland – with the former Labour leader suggesting powers should then be transferred to more local areas rather than remaining in Edinburgh, although he stressed this would be a matter for Holyrood.

Other reforms could see a new Council of the United Kingdom, to be chaired by the prime minister, which would replace the existing Joint Ministerial Committee system as a way of bringing together ministers from the UK’s devolved administrations.

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Another recommendation is for Scotland to be represented on key UK national bodies, such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Transport, Bank of England and the energy regulator Ofgem.

Meanwhile, “thousands” of civil service jobs could be transferred from London to Scotland, with Brown saying the report would name 12 agencies that could be moved out of the UK capital.

His comments came as he insisted “a serious plan to change Britain could be more attractive than independence for Scotland”.

He added: “Middle Scotland wants change but they are not committed to independence as the only form of change.”

Overall, he said the 40 recommendations, which are outlined in the 155-page report, represented “a new way forward for Scotland”.

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The former Labour leader, who was tasked by Starmer with carrying out the review, added: “We are setting out a programme of major constitutional, social, economic and political reform that will be implemented by a Labour government.

“That is the answer to people’s desire for change.”

Brown said: “There is not going to be [an independence] referendum, people accept that now. The SNP accept that.

“The issue is now what sort of change can we bring about in the next year or two. We believe if there was a Labour government we could have faster, safer change taking place.”

With Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon having vowed to now fight the next UK General Election as a de facto referendum, Brown said: “Let’s see what the difference is between what the SNP want and the social, economic, political and constitutional reforms that are absolutely massive in their impact and in line with Scottish opinion.

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“I believe that people in Scotland will want to support what we are doing, not just because it will be the right thing to do, but because it will be implemented immediately.

“We have a programme for reform of the United Kingdom that we can implement as a government when we come into power with a majority.

SNP depute leader Brown hit back harshly at Brown’s comments.

He said: “After bigging up this report for months and months, this is yet another underwhelming constitutional reform plan from the Labour Party full of vague platitudes, empty promises, and what feels like the 10,000th time they have committed to reform the House of Lords.

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“Ironically, a report which claims to be about strengthening devolution in many cases actually looks set to undermine it.

“The fact is, Labour are now a pro-Brexit party with a pro-Brexit leader. They are completely at one with the Tories when it comes to ignoring Scotland’s vote to remain in the EU, and ignoring the democratic will of the people of Scotland to determine their own future – and nothing in these proposals changes that.

“Through independence, Scotland can build a genuine partnership of equals with other nations across these islands – not only protecting the existing powers of the Scottish Parliament, but allowing us to escape the failing, Brexit-based, UK economic model and build a fairer, more prosperous and sustainable Scotland.”

Alba Party general secretary McEleny said: “The independence movement will be bracing itself for the latest Brownhog Day intervention – a day we have regularly now got to know as when the former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown pops back on the scene to make a load of empty promises that are never delivered.

“Scotland doesn’t need a Commission from the London Labour Party to tell us that the UK is broken, we can see that by the fact that we live in an energy nation but millions of Scots are facing a winter of fuel poverty.

“Of course, Labour say they want to transfer control from Westminster to towns, cities, regions and nations across the UK, but one power they don’t want to transfer is to give the Scottish Parliament the power to ask the people of Scotland to choose their own future as an independent country. Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands.”

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In a briefing for Scottish journalists ahead of the launch, Brown insisted the House of Lords was “indefensible” and had to go.

The report also proposes a series of measures to clean up politics including a new anti-corruption agency, an integrity and ethics commission to replace the various existing “ad hoc bodies” and a ban on most second jobs for MPs.

Backing the plan, Starmer will tell the launch event: “During the Brexit referendum I argued for Remain, but I couldn’t disagree with the basic case that many Leave voters made to me.

“They wanted democratic control over their lives so they could provide opportunities for the next generation, build communities they felt proud of, and public services they could rely on.

“And I know that in the Scottish referendum in 2014, many of those who voted Yes did so for similar reasons. The same frustration at a Westminster system that seems remote.”