Ertach Kernow Plus - Meaningful devolution or English county mayoral system?

Mebyon Kernow - Meaningful Devolution for Cornwall

Mebyon Kernow the party for Cornwall are challenging the devolution deal being offered to Cornwall Council by the UK government. This offers a County Deal on the same basis as the English counties and does not respect Cornwall's acknowledged Celtic language, distinct culture or its Cornish national minority.

The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities for which the UK is a signatory through the Council of Europe (not the European Union) has in reality not been fully upheld by the UK government. It seems that Cornwall does really need a meaningful devolution deal in line with that for Wales and Scotland to ensure its full enactment and to deal with the many unresolved issues here in Cornwall.

Michael Gove the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Minister for Intergovernmental Relations was interviewed by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on 22nd March 2023. Gove admitted that; 'There will be some places where it will not work' and that of the Cornish MP's Steve Double is the most energetically in favour. The committee chair asked if he (Steve Double) wanted the job, Michael Gove said he didn't know. We wait and see if Steve Double throws his hat into the ring for this top job if a mayoral system is foisted on Cornwall. Gove claims the mayoral system is evolutionary, so why is the system not flexible enough to take into account regional differences, such as Cornwall. Is it that they do not wish to inflame the smouldering fire of nationalism and perhaps separatism in Cornwall? Perhaps government intransigence and lack of interest in protecting and promoting Cornwall as a Celtic nation is actually adding to forces aiming for those results within Cornwall.

The outcome for the recent Consultation on the proposed Cornwall Devolution Deal expected in Mid-March has been postponed until 5th April. This delay has been criticised by all opposition parties. Criticism of the deal has included the paltry amount of money over 30 years, just 13million per annum not linked to inflation, the power available to a mayor and difficulty in removing them. 

Update: 5th April 2023 - The plans for a mayoral system for Cornwall by the Tory led Cornwall Council have been abandoned.

Mebyon Kernow

In it’s formal response to the consultation into the so-called “devolution deal,” Mebyon Kernow has challenged the Conservatives on the unitary authority to acknowledge that the “deal” is inadequate and to use their political influence with the Tory Government in London to bring forward a meaningful devolution settlement for Cornwall.

The Party for Cornwall has repeatedly stated that the proposed “deal” is not a devolution deal at all, but a range of possible accommodations between central government and Cornwall’s unitary authority, adding that it “does not include the transfer of far-reaching powers from Westminster to Cornwall, as has happened in Wales and Scotland since 1999.”

The MK response states that “Cornwall is a special case for meaningful devolution.” The representation states:

“The proposed deal does reference Cornwall’s distinct heritage, culture and language, as well as the national minority status of the Cornish people, but it then ignores Cornish nationhood and fails to look beyond treating Cornwall as a local government unit of England. This is unacceptable.

“When the UK Government recognised the Cornish as a national minority (through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities) in 2014, it pledged that the Cornish would be afforded the same status ‘as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.’ That commitment to parity with the other Celtic parts of the United Kingdom (which already have their own parliaments) must surely include meaningful devolution for the nation of Cornwall through the creation of a Cornish Parliament.

“It is the view of Mebyon Kernow that the provision of a parliament for Cornwall would demonstrate that the UK Government is finally starting to meet its obligations to the Cornish and Cornwall as set out in the Framework Convention.”

The MK representation rejects the notion that tweaks to the arrangements for local government in Cornwall can be deemed devolution and concludes:

“Cornwall is a historic nation and merits democratic parity with the other Celtic parts of the United Kingdom, such as Scotland and Wales.

“With this in mind, we repeat our call that the Conservative administration at the unitary authority should work with Cornwall’s six MPs to persuade the Conservative Government in London to bring forward a more significant devolution settlement for Cornwall, which includes a Cornish Parliament.”