What Scotland's new powers mean for the future of the dis-United Kingdom

Lord Smith of Kelvin
Lord Smith of Kelvin

This is a momentous day in the history of the United Kingdom. Not the end of the Union, but the first big step towards a federal UK.

Scotland will take control of income tax, bedroom tax, attendance allowance, carers allowance, disability living allowance, the work programme, winter fuel payments, air passenger duty and creating new benefits.

Holyrood will keep the first 10 per cent of VAT, can give 16-year-olds the vote and hand out fracking licences.

The reaction is not unanimous celebration. Deputy First Minister John Swinney says the powers fall “far short” of what was promised. Yes, the SNP wants more – but it would have accepted this plan a year ago. And anyway, this isn't the end. Further powers will eventually be transferred.

No one should doubt the unprecedented scale of what happened yesterday. We are moving at speeds that would make Lewis Hamilton’s eyes water, with no declared destination.

And in the next four weeks, the PM will tell us more about his plan on “English votes for English laws” (or kicking Scottish MPs out of Parliament for some votes, depending on how you look at it). That battle will drain what’s left of our competing leaders’ goodwill.

English cities and regions want new powers. Wales and Northern Ireland must have their say too.

More: All of Scotland's new powers and what they actually mean

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