Serious problems are not getting the attention they deserve because of the obsession with independenceby Willie Rennie / September 16, 2016 / Leave a comment
Since the referendum vote in June, we have heard little from the Brexiteers on what they hope to achieve by dragging us out of the European Union.
Boris Johnson says one thing, David Davis another. And the International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has been slapped down by Downing Street for rubbishing the very businesses that he is supposed to be promoting overseas—he called British business “fat and lazy.” It would be laughable if it were not so serious.
With the Tories divided, it is important that Scotland—which voted “Remain”—can speak with a united voice and make clear that we are determined to protect the many benefits that we take from being part of the EU. In the aftermath of the referendum vote, Nicola Sturgeon came to Holyrood and sought the support of all parties for an approach of this sort.
The Liberal Democrats backed the First Minister then. But since that point it has become clear that many within the Scottish National Party see Brexit not as a challenge to be overcome, but an opportunity to advance the cause of independence.
The blow of Brexit and the threat of another independence referendum means that divisive constitutional politics looms over the centre of our national debate like a dark cloud.
Over the summer, time and again we saw the First Minister and other senior figures in the SNP tell us that Brexit would be the spark for a second independence referendum for Scotland. The First Minister has launched a so-called listening exercise to pave the way for a second poll. Her Programme for Government included plans to draft a referendum bill so it is ready to go if needed.
Nicola Sturgeon says that she will only pursue a second referendum if she thinks it is the best way to protect Scotland’s interests. Well, if you think there is any chance she will conclude that independence is not the right option then I have a bridge to sell you.
Again, we are seeing the SNP put the day job to one side while it focuses on independence. This has broken the consensus that we saw at Holyrood after the Brexit vote. And it means that serious problems in other areas are not…