“Let’s not forget, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU – 62%.”
This is a fortnightly column by local MSP Maree Todd, SNP. All list MSPs for Orkney have been offered the same space.
Yesterday was the moment of truth for Theresa May’s Brexit plan.
As journalists waited eagerly outside Number 10, the Cabinet meeting stretched out for hours as May tried to sell her deal to Ministers.
Cabinet did eventually reach a collective position, but is certainly not unanimous. By lunchtime on Thursday, two Cabinet Ministers, two junior Ministers and two parliamentary aides had resigned. By lunchtime Friday, Five Cabinet Secretaries openly admitted to subverting the Prime Minister. They agreed to stay in government and work together “to get this in a better place”. May is clear that there can be no change to her deal. We are witnessing the UK Government disintegrating.
One Minister in particular that I am not sad to see the back of is the DWP Secretary, Esther McVey – someone who doggedly defended Universal Credit, the two-child limit and the rape clause. I hope her successor, unlike Esther McVey, listens to the mountains of evidence that so clearly shows the harm these policies are causing.
The withdrawal document, rumoured to be 400-600 pages, has of course taken months of protracted talks and comes nearly two and a half years after Brexit vote.
Yet there is not a single mention of Scotland in the agreement.
The British Antarctic Territory is mentioned, and Scotland is not.
In no way have Scotland’s ‘distinctive’ interests been protected – no matter what Theresa May might try to say.
Nicola Sturgeon has been unequivocal in what this agreement would mean for Scotland.
If this deal were to be agreed, Scotland would be left competing for investment and jobs with Northern Ireland – who will effectively be staying in the single market.
If it is possible to craft a differential Brexit deal to protect the economy in Northern Ireland, the same should be offered to Scotland.
Simply put, leaving the customs union and the single market will be devastating for jobs and investment in Scotland, and is not something that anyone should be prepared to accept.
Let’s not forget, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU – 62%. Scotland did not vote for this shambles, yet we are being dragged out of the EU against our will. This democratically wrong.
Crucially, for the Highlands and Islands, we find the groundwork has been laid for yet another betrayal of our fishing communities – it’s buried in the detail.
Throughout the Brexit process, it has been clear that the Tories think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it:
- Theresa May refused to speak with Nicola Sturgeon before the Cabinet meeting, instead offering a phone call after the deal was agreed.
- It is completely unacceptable that the UK Government withheld details of the draft document from Ministers in the Scottish Government.
- It is outrageous that David Lidington thinks he can summon the First Minister to meet with him today to discuss Brexit, with no detail of why and very little notice.
So much for the respect agenda, better together, and the “union of equals”.