Absurd stance of SNP
During the EU referendum campaign last year, I was one of the very few members of the Scottish Parliament to campaign publicly for a Leave vote and the only one in the north-east.
The entire Scottish political establishment were proactively arguing for Remain. I tried my utmost to make the positive case for the UK to leave the EU, as I firmly believed, and still believe, that there are tremendous opportunities ahead.
This was a historic week with the UK Parliament following through on the democratic will of the people and giving the prime minister approval to trigger Article 50. I have been astonished by the increasingly flawed stance of the SNP, which is using the result to foster further division with the rest of the UK and to agitate for a second independence referendum.
Furthermore, our first minister seems happy to hail the 1.6million who voted to Remain as “Scotland’s voice”, but the over 1million here who voted Leave are portrayed as un-Scottish and airbrushed out of the picture.
The first minister conveniently forgets that amongst that million are around 400,000 of her own supporters – including former cabinet secretary, Alex Neil, and a few bashful nationalist MSPs, who are too scared to publicly admit they went against the party line by voting for Brexit.
Nowhere was this more true than Banff and Buchan, an SNP stronghold where a majority voted to Leave. Rather than standing up for those voters who clearly wanted to Leave the EU, Banff and Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford voted against the triggering of Article 50 at Westminster, while Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson did the same in a symbolic vote at Holyrood.
That is a betrayal of their own constituents.
During the referendum, we were aware of the views of fishermen all over the UK, desperate to get out of the EU due to the devastation caused by the Common Fisheries Policy. The SNP did not represent those fishing communities in the referendum.
The SNP ultimately want an independent Scotland within the EU, but also talk of remaining firmly within EU structures with an unworkable differentiated deal. Not only would that stop our fishermen charting a new course away from the disastrous CFP, but it would prevent the industry asserting control over its Exclusive Economic Zone.
The SNP want to keep us tied to the EU, which is exactly the opposite of what our fishermen voted for.
We are constantly hearing about the 1970s and absurd claims that the Tories will sell out the fishing industry.
Brexit Minister David Davis made it abundantly clear in the Commons the fishing industry would be protected. In contrast, the SNP would betray our fishermen by marching them out of the UK, back into the EU. We would be left in a position where English fishermen would have full control of their EEZ, while the Scots would be stuck with the current arrangements that they voted against.
I think the prospect of a second independence referendum, based on Scotland breaking away from the UK in order to remain in the EU, will be a very difficult argument for the SNP to make.
A survey at the weekend also showed the views of Scots when it comes to the EU are not that different to those from the rest of the UK. 45% of voters quizzed north of the border dismissed the EU as a “political gravy train” and a “waste of money”.
Most people were more concerned about the state of the NHS, our education system and our economy.
Funnily enough, that is exactly what the Scottish Conservatives have been saying repeatedly at Holyrood.
The SNP want to keep us tied to the EU, exactly the opposite of what our fishermen voted for