The past couple of weeks have proven that Scotland is for Europe, that much is undeniable. Also undeniable are the different colours on the electoral map North and South of the border. Voters boosted the SNP share of the vote to 37.8% nationally. A record three SNP MEPS were elected. Alyn Smyth, Christian Allard and Aileen McLeod have already begun their work in Europe on behalf of Scots. Congratulations to them.
Turnout in Highlands and Islands was higher than average, testament to hard-working campaign teams across the region and the good sense of our people to get out and vote. I would particularly like to thank voters and activists from all over the region for their graft and dedication. The SNP has made significant gains here on a platform of an independent Scotland within Europe.
Even in Orkney, where the Lib Dems pipped the SNP in the local vote, the gap between the parties closed, with the SNP vote up 7.3% at 24.2%, a higher share of the vote than the best Tory vote in any Scottish constituency.
The EU election result is an historic and spectacular victory for the SNP, and an overwhelming rejection of Brexit by the people of Scotland. The UK political system has failed – and it has failed Scotland utterly. Scotland said no to Brexit in 2016. This result makes clear, we meant it. We will not accept a Brexit process that silences our nation, that treats our parliament and government with contempt and that fails to represent the interests of people in Scotland. The SNP will continue working with other parties to stop Brexit and all the ensuing economic damage to Scotland. If all Westminster has to offer is more chaos and confusion – potentially under an extreme Tory Brexiteer Prime Minister – then more and more people will decide that Scotland’s future is best served as an independent country.
The big political question now is what the major UK parties will make of the Brexit shambles in the wake of their Euro-election drubbing. Tory and Labour talks imploded before the vote, Theresa May’s premiership is over and months of Tory leadership electioneering now lie ahead.
The risks remain unacceptably high. The UK is still perched on the edge of a no-deal Brexit cliff edge, a scenario that would be catastrophic for Scotland.
With this in mind, the Scottish Government has tabled legislation that seeks to both protect and enable Scotland. The Independence Referendum Bill sets out the rules for future referendums, with the date and question in an independence referendum to be determined by future legislation. Crucially, the SNP will seek from the UK government the powers necessary to hold another independence referendum. The withholding of these powers would be a travesty of democracy.
I look forward to the passage of the new Bill through our Parliament with all the debate and scrutiny this will entail.
Who better to make decisions for Scotland, than those who live here? We need to determine our own future.
This is a regular column by local MSP Maree Todd, SNP, All list MSPs in the Highlands and Islands have been offered the same space.