Lochaber unites to look ahead to UK’s exit from Euro­pean Union

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

LOCHABER has united at a pub­lic meet­ing to dis­cuss the UK’s re­cent vote to leave the Euro­pean Union.

At a meet­ing on Fri­day (July 8), hosted by the Lochaber Com­mon Weal, 30 peo­ple from around Lochaber came to­gether to dis­cuss what the vote to leave the EU could mean for them.

Con­sul­tant sur­geon David Sedg­wick ex­pressed con­cern about the im­pact it could have on health and so­cial care in Scot­land.

He said: ‘In this area there are a lot of peo­ple from Eastern Europe who work in so­cial care. Where will we get these peo­ple from when we have left the EU? Where do we plan to re­cruit this num­ber of peo­ple from?’

Other is­sues put for­ward were what Scot­land could do as a coun­try to gen­er­ate in­come.

One at­tendee said: ‘Man­u­fac­tur­ing is what we need to gen­er­ate wealth and in­come.’

An­other sug­gested: ‘ What nat­u­ral re­sources does Scot­land have? Wa­ter and re­new­ables, that’s where we need to be look­ing.’

A lo­cal teacher from France said: ‘ We [im­mi­grants] bring more than we take.

‘My chil­dren are Bri­tish, and they don’t have dual cit­i­zen­ship, so I don’t want to be de­ported now.’

But John Gille­spie, who was host­ing the pub­lic meet­ing, in­di­cated that EU na­tion­als who are al­ready here will be pro­tected.

A Czech Repub­lic fam­ily who were on hol­i­day in Fort Wil­liam and had seen the meet­ing ad­ver­tised were pre­sent.

One of the fam­ily’s two daugh­ters spoke openly at the meet­ing, dis­cussing what life is like in her coun­try and what the re­ac­tion to Brexit has been in Europe. She said: ‘ We didn’t re­alise there was such a dif­fer­ence be­tween the way Scot­tish and English peo­ple felt about the ref­er­en­dum.’

She con­tin­ued: ‘Peo­ple move east to west for more money and bet­ter jobs. I want to be a doc­tor but the wages in Czech Repub­lic are so bad, so peo­ple move away, to the UK or Ger­many, for more money and a bet­ter life.’

Also dis­cussed was the treat­ment of im­mi­grants since the ref­er­en­dum.

Mr Sedg­wick said: ‘We as a coun­try wel­come im­mi­grants. We don’t use scare tac­tics to dis­cour­age peo­ple.’

Pol­i­tics was de­scribed as ‘di­vi­sive’ by Eddie Mor­gan, who is part of the com­mon weal. He said: ‘They don’t want us to have unity be­cause then we can fight against them. They have split us on in­de­pen­dence and now they have split us on this.’

A num­ber of peo­ple at the meet­ing said they felt there was no plan in place fol­low­ing the ref­er­en­dum.

A few said they thought this was be­cause most peo­ple ex­pected to re­main in the EU.

Mr Mor­gan said: ‘There was no plan be­cause there was no con­text to what would hap­pen.’

Mr Gille­spie added: ‘We have en­tered into a process that we don’t want to go down. We are in a non­sen­si­cal po­si­tion with no plan.’

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