Referendum vote condemned
THE electorate in Argyll and Bute followed the national trend across Scotland last week in voting strongly to remain part of the European Union (EU).
Across the area, 60.5 per cent of those who cast their votes backed the Remain campaign, with 39.4 per cent opting to leave.
A total of 29,494 people across Argyll and Bute wanted to stay in the EU, with 19,202 supporting the campaign to leave. The turnout was 73.13 per cent. Overall, that represented 44.3 per cent of the entire electorate voting remain while 28.8 per cent backed Brexit.
The UK-wide result, which saw a narrow victory for the Leave movement, was condemned by Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara. He said: ‘Despite Scotland and the people of Argyll and Bute voting emphatically to remain part of the European Union, we are facing the very real prospect of being dragged out of Europe against our will, due to the Brexit vote in the other parts of the United Kingdom.
‘Not only will that be extremely bad for Argyll and Bute and Scotland but it is, I believe, profoundly undemocratic.
‘I have never said that the Europe Union was perfect but it is overwhelmingly in our economic interest to be part of it. The Scotch whisky industry needs a European market, Scotland’s farmers need the support of the EU and, for an area experiencing depopulation, we need the ability to attract people and families from other parts of the continent in order to help kickstart our local economy.
‘But, above all, decades of close co- operation with our EU partners has kept the peace across a continent that has been at war with itself for centuries, and working collaboratively with our EU partners, the UK has been able to provide assistance to democratic governments in Afghanistan, Ukraine and across Africa.
‘Together as a European Union, we were working to alleviate the refugee crisis in the Middle East and North Africa. All of that good work is undermined by Brexit and I fear our collective European security will be compromised as a result.
‘Brexit has already been shown to be a slogan rather than a thoughtout plan, and as a consequence of last Thursday’s vote there is now a full-blown political crisis in the UK with both the Tories and Labour in absolute disarray – with sackings, resignations, plots and in-fighting on an unprecedented scale.
‘Thankfully, we in Scotland continue to have a stable and competent government working hard to get us out of this mess and I fully support Nicola Sturgeon’s attempts to have the democratically expressed wish of the Scottish people respected by both London and Brussels and have Scotland’s position within the EU protected.
‘I should also reiterate Nicola’s word of support to those EU citizens living in Scotland and acknowledge the contribution they make to our national life, to assure them that they are welcome here and that they are greatly valued.
‘I am as determined as she is to say that Argyll and Bute remains open for business, and people, regardless of their nationality, will be made welcome here.
‘As our first minister said, in the days, weeks and months ahead, we will consider all of the available options to avoid Scotland being dragged out the EU. As Nicola said, nothing is off the table and neither should it be.
‘The SNP government will work with anyone and everyone to ensure that Scotland’s decision is respected and I urge the UK government and governments across Europe have to take cognisance of what Scotland said on Thursday.’
Brendan O’Hara MP