It is of little comfort to know that I am not the only politician with a growing sense of déjà vu these days. As the Westminster Tory government drags us ever closer to a catastrophic no-deal Brexit, it seems ever more unlikely that we’ll achieve an outcome that will be good for the people of Scotland.
Supporters of the two political parties that have for decades done battle in Westminster election campaigns are now seeing these parties ripping themselves apart, with no need of help from the other. This internal warfare in the Tory and Labour parties is doing nothing positive for the electorate of Scotland, nor for the rest of an increasingly disunited kingdom.
It came to a head for the Labour Party at the start of this week as seven of its MPs split from the party to form an Independent Group – a name that admittedly has a nice ring to it! One of the key issues at the heart of this mass exodus is apparently Jeremy Corbyn’s hesitancy over another referendum on EU membership. There are other historic reasons of course, but referendum indecision may be the straw that broke this Labour camel’s back.
All this political manoeuvring came just as another major car manufacturer, Honda, announced that it will close its Swindon plant with the loss of about 3500 jobs in 2022. Again, the reasons for Honda moving manufacture back home to Japan are complex, but Brexit uncertainty is without doubt a factor.
This is another ‘we told you so’ moment from business leaders and in Scotland the focus lately has been on the impact that a no-deal Brexit would have on farming and fishing and tourism. These sectors were to the fore as Mike Russell visited Orkney recently to discuss potential Brexit strategies with Orkney Islands Council. By all accounts this was an extremely useful engagement, and it is good to know that Scottish Government ministers are able to give assurances at a time when their Westminster counterparts appear content to create chaos.
The next ‘meaningful’ vote falls on my birthday, 27th February, so it looks like I – along with everyone else – will be getting a full-on constitutional crisis as very unwelcome present!
There is, of course, another route out of the mess that the UK Tory Government and their hapless Westminster ‘Opposition’ are currently creating. The real opposition in the House of Commons lately has been the SNP, fighting the corner for a Scotland that voted to remain in the EU. From conversations with SNP branches across the Highlands and Islands, including Orkney, many folk who voted No in 2014 after being told that this was the only way to protect Scotland’s EU membership are coming to the conclusion that a vote for independence is now the best way to protect Scotland’s interests. As the clock ticks down to the worst of possible Brexit outcomes, the option of Scotland holding a second independence vote looks more and more attractive – and more and more necessary.
This is a regular column by local MSP Maree Todd, SNP. Highlands and Islands Lists MSPs from the other political parties have been offered the same space.