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