LIBERAL Democrats have drawn up a five-point blueprint for transforming the UK into a federal state – insisting that the Union only works if all countries work together.

The Scottish Lib Dem proposals include setting up a United Kingdom council of ministers – bringing together the devolved governments and administrations with elected mayors and regional leaders across England.

The document also suggests passing legislation in which Westminster renounces the ability to unilaterally change the powers of the devolved parliaments or to pass laws in their areas of responsibility – ending any claims of a "power grab" from UK ministers.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie asked former leader Lord Campbell to re-examine the party’s approach to reform and give Scotland and the nations and regions of the UK a bigger say on the future of the Union.

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The strategy also calls for a UK constitutional convention to be established – made up of political parties, local government and figures in civic society to address fears of alienation and confirm a move to a federal United Kingdom.

The Lib Dems have also appealed for power to be decentralised from Westminster to the cities and regions of England.

Mr Rennie said: “We need a new future for the United Kingdom where we reform to create a federal country. Power is best exercised when it is shared effectively.

"As we recover from the pandemic, a federal UK would allow us to chart a course together that allows us to reflect our common interests and our more local needs.

HeraldScotland: Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie RennieScottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie

“During the pandemic we have seen some of the benefits of devolution and joint decision making through the four nations approach."

He added: "Bringing power together when necessary has enabled joint decisions and the flexing of that approach for each part of the country has allowed for a diverse approach when it suits the circumstances.

"Sadly, at the same time we have also seen damaging squabbles and point scoring between the Scottish and UK Governments.

“I believe that the United Kingdom will only be secure when its constitution clearly recognises the shared sovereignty of all four constituent parts of the Union and finds a way to ensure that the UK Government, the governments of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the various parts of England can work together with rather than grandstanding for political advantage."

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Lord Campbell added: “In the 1980s and 90s, Scottish Liberal Democrats worked across party lines to build the case for a powerful Scottish Parliament and succeeded. Holyrood has real power over almost all the key areas of domestic policy, schools, the NHS, justice and policing, social care, economic development, transport and taxation.

"Despite this powerful parliament, the SNP seek to offer the people of Scotland a binary choice - the status quo or independence. As Scottish Liberal Democrats we reject that.

“This interim report asks what are the minimum steps that must be taken to ensure a stable, fair and cooperative future for Scotland in the United Kingdom.

“We welcome the thoughts and ideas of those in our party and outside it who understand the need for action and we plan to publish our final report in advance of the Scottish parliamentary elections in May.”