The political landscape in the UK took a bit of a rightwards jolt during the Todd family holiday. Having Boris Johnson announced as Tory leader wasn’t the ideal welcome home. His accession to Prime Minister after being elected by a few thousand Tories spells disaster for Scotland, and it was no surprise to hear him booed as he arrived at Bute House for his meeting with the First Minister. It is also little wonder he ducked out a back door afterwards. As Nicola Sturgeon made clear, behind all the bluff and bluster, this government is dangerous.
The Tory leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, has to now give a guarantee that Scottish Tory MPs will vote to block a no-deal Brexit when the House of Commons returns from recess.
As my SNP colleague Ian Blackford MP has said this week, she needs to show that her proclaimed opposition to Boris Johnson’s plans to drag Scotland out of the EU “do or die, come what may” by 31st October is not just empty rhetoric or a cynical PR exercise – designed to stop Tory support collapsing further in Scotland.
While SNP MPs have consistently voted to prevent a no-deal Brexit, Scottish Tory MPs have voted for it on every occasion – including at least sixteen times this year. The damaging Scottish Tory voting record contradicts reports Ruth Davidson expected them to vote as a bloc to protect Scotland’s interests.
Boris Johnson’s stand-off with the leaders of the rest of the EU threatens a no-deal Brexit that would destroy 100,000 jobs and cost every person in Scotland £2,300 a year. Most devastating for Orkney would be the forecast dramatic drop in farm incomes, and the consequent impact on the wider island economy.
There are positive opportunities for Orkney’s northern neighbours though. The campaign to elect an SNP voice for Shetland at Holyrood has had a high-profile start with the First Minister joining by-election candidate Tom Wills, a renewables engineer from Bressay, as he launched his bid in Lerwick at the weekend. I appreciate that there are as many differences between Orkney and Shetland as there are similarities. However, I also know that many in Orkney will be keeping a close watch on how the folk in Shetland vote on 29th August when they have the opportunity to choose a different path away from the chaos of successive Tory governments for which we did not vote.
Meanwhile, just south of Orkney, we are seeing how SNP support for a renewable energy future for Scotland is paying off. Scotland has a bright future ahead, as my visit to the Beatrice open day confirmed. Beatrice, located off the coast of Wick, is the country’s largest offshore windfarm and has the capacity to power 450,000 homes. In Scotland, we have 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resource! This exciting project has and will create both jobs and community benefit, and only serves to enhance the role of the Highlands and Islands as a generator of clean, green electricity.
This is a regular column by local MSP Maree Todd, SNP. All List MSPs for the Highlands & Islands have been offered the same opportunity to share their own views to Orkney News readers