Ref­er­en­dum vote con­demned

The Oban Times - - News - MARTIN LAING mlaing@oban­

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

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