SNP MP FOR PERTH & PERTHSHIRE NORTH Scotland’s at home in the EU
Last week saw the third anniversary of Scotland’s independence referendum and the opportunity to compare where we might have been with where we are now.
One of the arguments made for a‘no’vote three years ago was the claim that it was only by remaining as part of the UK that we could guarantee remaining part of the EU.
Well that claim has certainly been exposed to the revealing light of experience.
Not only does continuing as part of the UK mean that Scotland is to be dragged out of the EU against the wishes of the Scottish people, but the response from our European neighbours has made it clear that there would have been no question that an independent Scotland would have been a warmly welcomed member of the EU family.
Wherever you stood on the question of independence for Scotland, there can be no doubt that there was a significant amount of information provided about process, about timescale and about what the Scottish Government’s plans were.
In stark contrast, we have spent the 15 months since the Brexit referendum in a state of chaotic limbo. Hard Brexit, soft Brexit, cliff-edge Brexit. It is all still up in the air. Almost as if the people‘in charge’haven’t a clue what they are doing. Or, indeed, what they actually want.
Britain still thinks that it is bigger than it is, this big imperial power. But the reality was embarrassingly clear when Theresa May addressed the UN General Assembly and she was pretty much speaking to an empty room. After that it was off to Florence for a pretty empty speech to a collection of British journalists she could just as easily have spoken to from her own front door.
Ms May referred in that speech to the prospect of more powers for Scotland but it has been clear for some time that her intention is to do quite the opposite.
This is a fear shared by the Welsh Government who can also see a Westminster power grab on the devolved administrations coming down the line. It was really good, therefore, to see the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers, shoulder to shoulder, jointly publishing amendments to the European Union (Withdrawal Bill), to prevent the UK Government taking control of devolved policy areas.
That speech really underlined the difference between the Prime Minister and myself – and I suspect countless others – on the issue of Europe.
Theresa May claimed that “The UK never felt truly at home in the EU”. I entirely disagree. Despite decades of misinformation, a Eurosceptic or disinterested media, and a mostly lacklustre remain campaign, Scotland voted to remain in the EU – and did so more emphatically than when we first voted to join the Common Market.
Scotland has found a home in the EU – and we don’t want to be evicted!
World stage Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City last week. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images