WANG Lei, QU Bing:The Operational Dilemma of Devolution in the United Kingdom: A Perspective Based on the Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the deficiencies of devolution, which has been in place in the UK for more than 20 years, have once again emerged. Due to the “decentralized” nature of the devolved system, the UK government was unable to implement a UK-wide unified pandemic prevention policy, thus further exacerbating the public health crisis. At the same time, the devolved governments politicized the issue of pandemic prevention and even took the advantage of this occasion to promote separatism, resulting in a serious constitutional crisis. From the perspectives of both the effectiveness of pandemic prevention and political stability, the British devolved system has fallen into a serious dilemma. Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, the UK government has tried to reform the devolution settlements, but it has encountered multiple obstacles. The principal reasons for this situation lie in the inherent flaws of the system, the party system associated with it, and the external environmental factors such as Brexit. Generally speaking, the devolution is not a mature and effective solution to the problem of ethnic separatism.