A federal UK post-Brexit?

An article in the final issue of The Spectator for last year suggested that Lords reform might become a serious possibility after Brexit. Alistair Lexden takes a different view, as he explained in the main letter in the first issue of the magazine for 2019. It would be infinitely more profitable to discuss and debate recently published proposals for a new federal constitution for the UK.

Sir, How astonishing that the historian Robert Tombs (‘ Beyond Brexit’, 15 December) should think that the Lords might ‘at last be seriously reformed’ after more than a century of schemes that foundered in the Commons. MPs have an unthreatening upper house; they will never agree on substantial changes that would increase its power. They will leave the Lords to implement its own sensible plans to cut its numbers to 600 by bringing party strengths into line with those in the Commons over the next few years.

Those interested in radical Lords reform should study the detailed proposals for a federal constitution drawn up by an all-party group chaired by the Marquess of Salisbury, the current custodian of  a long family tradition of creative constitutional thinking. A member of the group, the distinguished former Clerk of the Commons, Lord Lisvane, has introduced a Bill which would completely recast the role of the upper house. Those seriously interested in finding a constitution fit for the post-Brexit world should turn to the Lisvane Bill.

Alistair Lexden
House of Lords