Ruth Davidson will today call for “more Union” across Britain in an effort to address concerns that the UK has become too London-centric.
The Scottish Conservative leader will use her party conference speech in Manchester to make the case for a greater spread of civil service and cultural bodies across the country.
The Conservative general election manifesto included a pledge to start moving UK institutions and public servants away from the capital to other cities.
Ruth will argue that, despite 20 years of devolution, London continues to dominate in a way that other world capitals such as Washington DC or Berlin do not.
In her speech, she will cite the examples including the V&A museum in Dundee, the relocation of civil service jobs to Edinburgh and the Northern Powerhouse agenda for Manchester as a starting point for a Union spread “more evenly”.
But she will say that more needs to be done, and that Scotland should “seize the opportunity” to ensure more institutions and jobs are shifted north of the border.
Ruth will say:
"Devolution of power has transformed our nation for the better. It has put power closer to people.
"But – at the same time – while we’ve built vigorous new devolved structures, we’ve not done enough to nurture that which binds us.
"As the Prime Minister said in Scotland earlier this year, all too often, Whitehall devolves and forgets.
"And the danger is that we become a country that stays together, but lives apart.
"With the cracks exploited by those who would pull us apart for good.
"So let me make a plea today.
"Yes – let’s absolutely press on with more devolution. But it’s time for a bit more Union too.
"More Union right across Britain.
"More Union in all parts of our nation – benefiting us all.
"More Union spread evenly– and not just based in London.
"It’s wonderful that our small island nation plays host to the capital of the world.
"But the truth is: for all the devolution of power in the last twenty years, our Union continues to be far too London-centric.
"Compare us to our friends around the world. New York’s global status doesn’t diminish Washington’s political clout, LA’s creative output, or Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurialism. Instead, America has a cluster of great global cities.
"Or look at Germany – where Berlin’s political heft is balanced by the financial hub of Frankfurt and the industry of Munich.
"We’re the odd one out – in fact, only Moscow among major global capitals accounts for a greater share of national product than London.
"And this imbalance is getting crazy.
"We live in a country where the property values of London’s top 10 boroughs are worth more than all of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales combined.
"Where you can sell up a three bed semi in Ilford, and buy half of Sutherland.
"Where, in a capital city already zooming forward on the jet fuel of high finance, the economy is further boosted by enough civil servants to fill Wembley stadium.
"It is time for change – to fulfil the plans we set out at the election this year…
…to give Britain a shake and spread more of our Union outside the capital.
"To see our great metropolitan cities have a greater share in the government of the United Kingdom.
"To ensure that – if our civil service and cultural bodies are to claim to be UK institutions - they must represent and be present across our whole United Kingdom.
"To move more of the infrastructure, the people and the administration of our country out of the capital and into the country.
"It is happening to a degree already of course.
"More civil service jobs coming to my constituency in central Edinburgh.
"The fantastic new V+A museum rising up in Dundee, ready to show the best of Scottish and British design.
"And here in Manchester, the Northern Powerhouse now showing the way ahead.
"But I want to see more. We need to see more.
"The government’s industrial strategy is designed to boost growth in places across all four nations of the United Kingdom.
"The government is reviewing the various agencies based in London to see which ones could be ready for a move.
"So I want us to seize the opportunity to ensure more of them come to Scotland."