Leaving the EU: Impact on the UK

Published date : 17 March, 2021
It is a pleasure to speak in this debate, although it seems that speaker after speaker, no matter which side of the House they sit on, has chosen to use a substantial portion of their time to castigate the Scottish National party for its choice of debate topic. In truth, I do not think it really mattered which topic we chose. We could have made one debate about sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, and the Conservatives would still have been determined to take up time giving an airing to their only discernible policy of being against a second independence referendum in Scotland, without which they would have nothing at all to put on their election leaflets in Scotland.

Members on both sides of the House throughout the afternoon have displayed a near-demented determination to paint a picture of a dystopian Scotland that anyone actually living in Scotland would seriously struggle to recognise, even in caricature. It rather begs the question why, if the Scottish Government are doing such a bad job, Labour and the Conservatives are currently tussling over which of them will end up in third place in May’s Holyrood elections.

The reason that reliable polls on voting intentions show such strong support for Scottish independence recently is, in large part, due to a significant body of voters in Scotland: those who voted no in 2014, who voted remain in 2016 and who, in the light of all they have experienced and their unhappiness with the way that the Brexit project has unravelled under the Conservative Government, have chosen to embrace independence as the best future for our country. It is somewhat ironic to find ourselves being lectured in this debate about the problems being caused by the creation of borders, when that is exactly what the UK Government have just delivered straight down the Irish sea, under the terms of the deal agreed.

The Minister, amid some quite poorly chosen remarks, asked for one positive suggestion in this debate from the SNP. Let me suggest one that would help to remove a large part of the friction over the border currently between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland: aligning food and agricultural standards with the EU once again, which would remove the need for the phytosanitary checks that are threatening to leave shelves empty.

Brexit may not have been the circumstances in which we would have chosen to embark on a second independence referendum, but once the pandemic is over, they are certainly the circumstances that make it necessary to pursue that goal, to secure our recovery, to secure our prosperity and to secure the integrity of Scotland’s hard-won democratic institutions. We have always been a European nation. I look forward to us being so once again.

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