Blair government's devolution programme for Scotland and Wales along with
the provisions of the Belfast Agreement for a North-South Ministerial
Council and a British-Irish Council have established new constitutional
arrangements among the nations of the United Kingdom and between Britain
and Ireland. Blair's constitutional reform agenda will eventually extend
to England. A start has been made with the election of a Mayor and Assembly
in London in 1999 and the setting up of development agencies as possible
precursors to regional assemblies in England. Once the English assemblies
are in place, Blair's ambition to transform the political face of the
United Kingdom will be complete.
Scotland Act and the Government of Wales Act have transformed the once
homogenous British nation into a new union of nations with separate legislatures
in Edinburgh and Cardiff giving expression to Scottish and Welsh identity.
in Northern Ireland poses new challenges for unionists who, unlike the
Welsh and the Scottish, consider themselves as part of the British nation
rather than a separate nation. Blair's programme of devolution has put
an end to the Ulster unionists' notion of Britishness. It remains to be
seen whether the political settlement in Northern Ireland will lead to
a new 'Ulster' identity.