What 'Devo Max' Means For Scotland

Although Scotland voted to remain in the U.K., its role in the government will be far different than before thanks to what's known as "devo max."
Posted at 1:35 PM, Sep 20, 2014

Scotland's pro-independence campaign lost Thursday's referendum, but England’s northern neighbor gained something else that might prove almost as liberating — it's called devo max.

Devo max, or maximum devolution of powers, is how Britain refers to giving a country within the U.K. about as much autonomy as it can possibly have while remaining a part of the U.K.

In a final bid to convince Scotland to vote against independence, a form of devo max was promised to the Scots by the U.K’s three main party leaders, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, and Nick Clegg. Once the referendum results were made final, Prime Minister Cameron said he plans to make due on his promise.

DAVID CAMERON VIA THE TELEGRAPH: “The three pro-union parties have made commitments, clear commitments, on further powers for the Scottish Parliament. We will ensure that those commitments are honoured in full.”

So, what does that mean for Scotland? Well, they’re not getting full devo max powers, as that would give them control over everything in their country aside from defense and foreign affairs. But they are likely getting a lot of other powers.

Cameron plans to give Scotland more control over its income tax rate, spending and welfare by next year at the soonest. But Scotland might also stand to lose one of its powers. 

Cameron says he'll address a question sometimes referred to as the “West Lothian" question. That is, the debate over the Scots ability in parliament to vote on issues that affect only England. 

Cameron didn’t say he’ll do that specifically, but he has tasked leading conservative William Hague with drawing up plans that could amount to the biggest constitutional change in the U.K’s history since 1920.

But while Cameron has promised Scotland wide-ranging new powers of self-governance, he might still have a hard time getting his fellow Tories on board.

In what The Independent calls “the Conservative Party revolt”, members of Cameron’s own party are pushing back against the PM's promises ,with one saying, “Talk about feeding an addiction. The more you give them, the more they want, and we would be back with calls for independence within a decade or sooner.”

The Huffington Post quotes another Tory MP as saying the timetable laid out by Cameron is too short and that rushing any decision might very well lead to another Scottish independence referendum. 

And Cameron is under fire from the far-right U.K. Independence Party as well, with its leader Nigel Farage telling the BBC "We've had a lot from Scotland but the tail cannot go wagging the dog any longer."

Whatever new constitutional arrangement is made, it will have to be approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords after the next general election in 2015.

This video contains images from Getty Images.