Impact of Devolution

Impact of Devolution

Political Consequences

  • Led to an increased sense of national identity within Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and also led to questions over English national identity.
  • The evolution of a more widespread acceptance of plurinational democracy.
  • Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland became responsible for some home affairs, such as education and health, which has led to the growth of differing policies between the nations.
  • The devolved nations have gained international standing, as they can now make direct links with the European Union and other global organizations.

Constitutional Implications

  • Significantly altered the unitary nature of the UK constitution, breaking the pattern of Westminster Parliamentary sovereignty.
  • Led to the creation of new political institutions - Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly.
  • Highlighted asymmetric nature of devolution powers - Scotland has most significant powers followed by Wales and then Northern Ireland.
  • Introduced the “Sewel Convention”, which holds that the UK Parliament will not normally legislate on devolved matters without devolved legislative consent.


  • Raised questions about the constitutional status of England - this is sometimes referred to as the ‘West Lothian Question’.
  • Has brought about the potential for constitutional crisis, for example in the refusal of the Scottish Parliament to consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.
  • Led to increased strain on the union, particularly in the context of Brexit.

Understanding the impact of devolution is key to evaluating the current political and constitutional setup of the UK. Remember, devolution is both a solution and a challenge to the political landscape of the UK.