Country needs a new indy debate
Although only a fortnight since my last column, it almost feels like a lifetime ago.
The prime minister has triggered Article 50, and notably without a UK-wide approach.
Theresa May’s unilateral action flies in the face of a promise she herself made last year that she would secure agreement with the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before beginning the process of exiting the EU.
The prime minister could have taken the views of the devolved administrations seriously, but instead she has broken her word.
After negotiations there will be a period for democratic approval, the UK Parliament will have a choice about our future, the European Parliament will have a choice about our future and 27 other European countries will have choice about Scotland’s future.
It stands to reason that the people of Scotland should be able to have a choice too.
The Scottish Parliament has now backed that choice – for Scotland to hold an independence referendum when the terms of Brexit are known.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has written to the prime minister to seek agreement on an Order under section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 that would enable a referendum to be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament.
The prime minister should understand the lie of the land – to refuse this would raise serious constitutional questions.
A poll by Survation released on Friday found that 61 per cent of people in Scotland think the Scottish Parliament – not Westminster - should have the right to decide whether Scotland has a future referendum on independence.
This is a clear rejection of Tory attempts to prevent the people of Scotland having that choice.
I hope that people in Scotland recognise that the political and constitutional landscape has changed significantly since 2014, and this is very much a fresh discussion.
Just days ago, the Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis said that Spain would not attempt to stand in the way of an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU.
Last week Lord Kerr, who wrote Article 50, said that an independent Scotland would see “a very swift accession negotiation” and that Scotland would “be in very fast”.
Hurricane Energy’s announcement last week that they had discovered significant undeveloped oil reserves in Scottish waters west of Shetland – proving huge untapped potential that remains.
One by one, the arguments of the no campaign in the 2014 referendum fall, and it is right that we look at things with fresh eyes.
I am aware that not all of my constituents wish to see a referendum.
Some may be apprehensive or anxious at the prospect.
My hope is that we can have a reasoned, and sensible debate.
As the MP for the area, I will do all I can to ensure that the path ahead is civil and respectful.
As political discourse south of the border takes a sharp turn into the realms of ridiculousness, with senior Tories openly advocating war with Spain, I am glad that we have an opportunity to debate the facts openly in Scotland.
We surely owe it to the next generation to channel our passions constructively and considerately, and to chose what will be best for them.
It is right that we look at things with fresh eyes
Debate Scotland could be set to vote on the issue of independence once more