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Plans for Union minister rejected … because Michael Gove already does the job From “Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines”



Michael Gove arrives at the Cabinet Office.Plans to create a Cabinet position for the Union to counter the SNP’s growing push for independence look set to be rejected because Michael Gove already wields the responsibility.A review into the Union, delivered to the Government in November 2019 but only published on Wednesday night, had called for a new office holder to be given a similar status to the holders of the Great Offices of State, such as the Chancellor and Foreign Secretary.However, the flagship proposal, made in a review commissioned by Theresa May and carried out by Lord Dunlop, the former Scotland Office minister, is understood to have received a lukewarm response and is not expected to be taken forward.Responding to Lord Dunlop’s proposal, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said that the “responsibility for constitutional integrity” was already part of his “day to day” responsibilities. The Prime Minister has also assumed the title of minister for the Union.Creating a new Cabinet role would effectively take away another key responsibility from Mr Gove, a staunch unionist, who recently handed over his duties for post-Brexit relations with the EU to Lord Frost.However, other proposals, such as emblazoning UK-funding infrastructure projects with the Union flag and making changes to the civil service, are likely to be adopted.Asked about creating a new Minister for the Union, a government source said: “I don’t think there’s any current thinking along these lines. There’s a high-powered Cabinet sub-committee that has been set up with the PM, the Chancellor and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish secretaries of state.“That will be the group that sets the strategic direction now on these kinds of issues. The report is thoughtful and thorough but it was commissioned by a previous prime minister quite a long time ago.“A lot of the ideas have already been woven into current thinking and current approaches.”Other proposals, such as plans for the Government to take on a more visible presence in devolved nations and to directly fund projects in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have been acted upon. Such schemes “should be clearly marked with UK Government branding,” Lord Dunlop said.Story continuesThe Telegraph understands that ministers are giving serious consideration to creating a permanent secretary for the Union. The proposal was one of the key recommendations of Lord Dunlop, who suggested the senior mandarin would lead the civil service teams in the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland offices.With Lord Dunlop also calling for greater focus to be placed on the Union and devolution throughout the civil service, Mr Gove said that a revamped civil service training programme would include an “explicit focus” on devolution. Director generals and permanent secretaries would also receive training through the Government’s national leadership academy.Other measures being implemented include the creation of an exchange programme between the UK civil service and the devolved administrations, allowing 60 people, including senior civil servants, to spend up to two years working in a different administration. Half of these would be people from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland working for the UK Government, Mr Gove said.The Government is also increasing the number of places available on its fast-track career ladder for civil servants in the devolved administrations.Ministers have already announced their intention to move 22,000 civil services roles out of London and the South East to other parts of the UK by 2030, including senior officials moving to hubs in the devolved administrations.Lord Dunlop acknowledged that working relationships had been “tested” by Brexit, with Nicola Sturgeon using withdrawal from the EU as justification for a new independence referendum. She is to seek a mandate for a new vote on leaving the UK at the Scottish Parliament elections in May.He said that despite “fundamental differences”, it should be possible to “establish professional working relationships based on a higher level of trust than currently exists” and that working together was “what people across the UK want and expect from their elected governments”.He proposed the creation of a UK Intergovernmental Council (UKIC), which “would be a forum for co-operation and joint working on both opportunities and challenges.”Responding to the review, Ronnie Cowan, the SNP MP and a member of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said: “This long-delayed review confirms only one thing: that Scotland doesn’t need Tory tinkering with the constitution, we need independence.”







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