May 27, 2022
Relations between the respective governments of Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson – pictured here in Boat House – have been cooling off in recent times.

One of the disappointing aspects of the constitutional stalemate in the UK is that in recent years intergovernmental relations (IGR) between the UK and the Scottish (and indeed Welsh) governments appear to be deteriorating. This has been intensified in the post-Brexit era with the UK Government’s Internal Markets Act, which so far addresses the funding and distribution of powers that have been affected by EU regulations, which have led to deviant governments. Is considered “power grab”. That said, the Coveted Epidemic and Climate Change Challenge (hosted by COP26 in Glasgow) has seen the need for serious cooperation in these and other areas over the past two years.

Recently, following the IGR’s review, new structures have been proposed. It is said to “provide ambitious and efficient work, help restore the code, tackle climate change crises and inequalities, and provide sustainable development.”

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The new arrangements are “based on the principles of mutual respect and trust, with respect to the specific powers of the British Government and Parliament and the powers of the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the Northern Ireland executive and their legislative transfers.” The new system will provide a positive basis for fruitful relationships, facilitate dialogue where ideas are interconnected and provide solutions where they are not.

John Stroke QC, Founder and Senior Arbitrator, Basic Solutions

More detailed principles emphasize effective communication, respect for privacy, accountability, and resolving disputes in a clear and concerted manner. For those of us who are involved in conflict prevention and management, this all seems like a good thing.

The review also states that “on issues of mutual interest, governments will seek to move forward by consensus, including ensuring that issues are resolved as soon as possible.” Among other provisions, the intergovernmental machinery should “promote the avoidance of conflict by ensuring that there are effective communication and governance structures at all levels, from working-level officials to ministers.”

Promoting conflict resolution and avoidance, all governments are committed to “promoting cooperation and avoiding disagreements; the process of resolution; as part of a broader system of functional IGR, and the implementation of the last resort. Should be seen as. ” Again, an approach that emphasizes conflict prevention and early management, and seeks to resolve conflicts as a last resort, should be commended.

One of the functions of the newly established IGR Secretariat is to facilitate the resolution of disputes. It includes “examining whether appropriate steps have been taken to resolve a dispute and deciding whether it should be escalated into a dispute …” where appropriate, the Secretariat “third party Will appoint a third party to provide advice or conduct. An arbitrator will be appointed. The working hours of the arbitration process will be agreed upon by the parties.

In the past, a mediator or other decisive action may be used to resolve a dispute. Overall, this feels like a major change, not only in the UK IGR, but also in recognizing the opportunities offered by mediation to help resolve political differences rather than escalate them. This seems sensible and realistic as it preserves the sovereignty of the disputing parties to make decisions with flexibility rather than deciding on any proposed solution.

In an interesting contribution to the initial discussion of the Brexit talks, Horst Edmولmler wrote: Guide negotiators to mediation “including negotiations as a (strong) political or public element. The unsatisfactory results that come after the Bridget talks, with their zero money, or the tendency towards lost results, may reinforce this point. We need to avoid it in the future, if we can.

Mediation may play a role in future discussions on constitutional issues, including the condi
tions under which any referendum will proceed. Finding ways to work together seems necessary in the current constitutional arrangement and, in the case of Scottish independence, co-operation will still be important given our geographical, economic and social interdependence.

Recent controversial proposals for “leveling up” and maintaining EU legislation suggest that the IGR will continue to work hard. However, in Britain’s political discourse, perhaps the day of mediation is coming;

John Stroke is the founder and senior mediator, the basic solution

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