David Cameron
David Cameron announced plans for England after Scottish referendum Getty

David Cameron's "trap" for Labour by linking promised Scottish devolution to "English votes for English laws" appears to be coming apart as Downing Street confirmed the two issues do not have to share the same timetable for implementation.

The prime minister's spokesman insisted the government's promise to give the extra powers to Holyrood, as agreed by all three party leaders, would go ahead as agreed, "no ifs, no buts".

That was irrespective of whether an agreement could be reached with Labour on the separate issue of Scottish MPs continuing to vote on English-only laws in Westminster - the infamous West Lothian question.

The day after the Scottish referendum, the prime minister surprised the other parties by insisting the two things had to be introduced "in tandem", with draft laws by January of next year.

The suggestion was Labour's reluctance to accept the timetable for the "English question" would kill off the "vow" to Scotland and hit its standing north of the border.

The move was seen as a deliberate trap because Labour relies on its 40 Scottish MPs in the Commons, compared with the Tories' single member, and their power would be massively curtailed.

Is the Scottish vow going to be stuck to - yes. With the Conservative party you get both the Scotland vow and the West Lothian question, with the others you only get one.
- Prime minister's spokesman

The Tories believe that by opposing the English plans and calling for a constitutional convention to hammer out details during the next parliament, Ed Miliband would appear to be anti-English and attempting to kick the issue into the long grass.

But on Monday (22 September), the prime minister's spokesman said: "The vote in Scotland has brought the contours of the West Lothian question into even starker relief.

"That is why the prime minister and William Hague have set out the same timetable. Is the Scottish vow going to be stuck to? Yes.

"With the Conservative party, you get both the Scotland vow and the West Lothian question; with the others you only get one. Whether or not the West Lothian question is on a cross-party basis remains to be seen."

In other words, Labour's refusal to jump into Cameron's political trap will not stop further Scottish devolution going ahead as promised in the eve-of-referendum "vow".

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have insisted the promise of extra powers to Scotland should be kept separate, claiming attempts to answer the West Lothian problem, which has existed for over a century, should not be rushed just for Tory political advantage.

Ed Miliband
Tories plan to paint Ed Miliband as anti-English Reuters

And it now seems the Tories fear they will appear to be trying to renege on the vow to Scotland as part of a political trick to out-manoeuvre Labour.

But Cameron is on a hook, with many of his senior MPs furious he promised to hand over more power to Scotland in a last-minute panic during the referendum campaign without consulting them. And they may vote against the proposals in the next parliament.

At the same time, there are loud and growing demands from his backbenches for the West Lothian question to be answered through devolution to England and the other nations and regions or an English-only parliament, or executive.

Any such proposals would represent a massive constitutional change and the idea the prime minister could solve it in the same two months' timetable agreed by all parties for the Scottish plans is being met with derision in Westminster.

The prime minister held a meeting in Chequers on Monday with more than 20 of his MPs in an attempt to placate his backbenches and work out some sort of deal over the English question.

But, at the moment, it appears Cameron has dug a trap for Labour and then fallen into it himself.