Monday 29th May 2017
Dr Paul Monaghan, Scottish National Party MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
On 23 June, 2016, the people of Scotland voted to remain an integral part of the European Union.
The people of Scotland are aware that the purpose of the EU is to promote social, political and economic harmony among the nations of Western Europe. That purpose has been developed through the unification of European markets and implemented through common legal standards to which all member nations are held. In the latter respect, the EU, to a greater extent, complements the United Nations. Both have an interest in protecting basic rights and common values.
It is regrettable that not all of the nations which comprise the political union of the UK voted to remain an integral part of the EU. It is also regrettable that the UK Government has chosen to interpret the outcome of the referendum as a mandate to withdraw from the EU in defiance of the differentiated views that exist in Scotland and North Ireland. That interpretation does a great disservice to the people of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The EU has brought many benefits to Scotland, and a significant majority in Scotland recognise that the relationships now existing between the nations of Europe sustain peace and promote prosperity in a region of the world where such objectives have not always been prioritised.
What reasonable person would not wish to prioritise peace and prosperity?
Turning to Scotland’s situation specifically, the UK Government’s decision to dogmatically ignore the views of the Scottish Government does not sit well with the concept of democracy nor the notion that the UK is a partnership, far less a partnership of equals, as has been recently claimed.
The challenge now confounding the UK Government is how to proceed toward the objective of achieving a “Hard Brexit” in the face of significant challenge from the people of Scotland. Indeed, it is legitimate now to question the extent to which the views, opinions, hopes and desires of the Scottish people can continue to be ignored?
Listening to the Prime Minister many people now consider that she mistakenly believes the people of Scotland can be ignored, and that this can be justified by simply claiming to be listening to Scotland’s voice, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The people of Scotland see through that charade and are well aware of the difficult position that the UK Government now finds itself in. Scotland knows its assets, resources and wealth are crucial to the negotiations that the Prime Minister intends to embark upon with the EU, and we are increasingly minded to withhold these bargaining chips.
Distrust of Westminster is growing in Scotland. The people of Scotland do not want to leave the EU and do not want to endure the decades of impoverishment and hardship that will be the inevitable consequence of a hard Brexit.
Scotland must have the opportunity to choose the path it wishes to take. Do the people of Scotland want to continue as a beneficiary of Europe’s progressive social structures, or should the people of Scotland choose to isolate themselves from the world within a political union that is looking inward, in eager anticipation of protectionist policies, and turning a blind eye to the opportunities which accompany the free movement of capital, goods, people and services across our planet’s largest single market?
Can the Prime Minister stretch her policy of ignoring the views of the people of Scotland to the point of refusing the people of Scotland the opportunity to exercise their democratic right through a referendum?
Here it is worth reflecting on the UK’s duties and obligations as a member of the UN. The purposes of the UN include that of creating the conditions of stability and well-being that are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. That includes promoting higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development, and observing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
Such purposes are the antithesis of hard Brexit, and the people of Scotland know those duties and obligations exist.
There will be a referendum, if that is Scotland’s choice.