Coun­try needs a new indy de­bate

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews - Mar­garet Fer­rier

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

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