Scotland was meant to be an equal partner in these negotiations. It hasn’t beenby Ian Blackford / February 19, 2018 / Leave a comment
It is now 20 months since the European Union Referendum, in which the people of Scotland voted emphatically to “Remain.”
Over the course of these 20 months, the Tory government has shown itself to be fractured, clueless and woefully unprepared for its own Brexit. The cabinet is deeply divided, the prime minister is dancing to the tune of her hard right wing, and even in the face of their own forecasts showing untold damage to the economy they are ploughing forward with an extreme Brexit.
There is absolutely no doubt that this will be disastrous for Scotland and the rest of the UK—threatening jobs and prosperity. Recent analysis from the Scottish government shows the staggering impact of any Brexit, and the UK government’s own leaked analysis only serves to mirror these appalling figures.
If Scotland is dragged out of the EU against its will, one scenario shows £12.7bn a year is likely to be lost from its economy, while 80,000 jobs Scottish jobs could be at risk.
With those prospects the Scottish National Party’s position is that the best option would be for the UK to remain in the EU—and the customs union and single market by extension. At the very least, membership of these latter two institutions should be on the table.
Still the UK government plans to drag us out of both. Nobody voted in the referendum to make themselves poorer and of course, leaving the customs union was on no ballot paper ever voted on. That is purely and simply the ideological position of the Tories.
It is an astonishing political failure that under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour has decided to completely ignore Brexit impact assessments and write the government a blank cheque to behave in this way. Corbyn is even refusing to join with the SNP and others in a cross-party approach to protect our place in the single market. This is a dereliction of duty.
Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly called for the Scottish government to be an equal partner in Brexit negotiations, which was previously guaranteed by Theresa May herself. However, instead of being an equal partner in a “family of nations,” Scotland’s views have been repeatedly side-lined, and its interests actively undermined.
Nowhere is this more evident than with the EU Withdrawal Bill. Through this, the government looks set to make a blatant power grab of the powers devolved to the Scottish parliament, in areas such as farming and fisheries. It is imperative that the Scottish Parliament retain responsibility in already devolved areas so that Scots are heard and represented. Otherwise the devolution settlement will be undermined.
The Tories now think they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it and it is becoming increasingly clear that the UK government intends to plough on, no matter the cost. Labour meanwhile seems unwilling to lift a finger to prevent them.
It has never been more important that politicians stand up for Scotland.