Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture has accused the UK government of robbing a generation of Scots of their future by imposing Brexit on them. Angus Robertson said that Brexit was a “disaster” for Scotland and that the Scottish people deserved the right to choose their own destiny in a second independence referendum.
Brexit impact on Scotland
Robertson, who is also the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), said that Brexit had caused significant damage to Scotland’s economy, society and international reputation. He cited the loss of trade, investment, jobs, EU funding, freedom of movement, environmental protections, human rights and cultural exchanges as some of the negative consequences of leaving the EU.
He also said that Brexit had undermined the devolution settlement and the Scottish Parliament’s powers, as the UK government had taken back control of some policy areas that were previously devolved to Scotland. He said that the UK government had ignored Scotland’s voice and interests throughout the Brexit process, and had refused to consult or cooperate with the Scottish government on key issues.
Robertson said that Brexit had exposed the democratic deficit and the constitutional crisis in the UK, as Scotland had voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, but was dragged out of the bloc against its will by the UK-wide result. He said that this was a clear example of how Scotland’s future was determined by Westminster, not by the people of Scotland.
Scotland’s right to choose
Robertson said that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests and values was to become an independent country and rejoin the EU as a full member. He said that the SNP was committed to holding a second independence referendum once the Covid-19 pandemic was over, and that the Scottish people had the right to decide their own future.
He said that the SNP had a clear mandate to hold a referendum, as it had won a historic fourth term in the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2023, with a record number of seats and votes. He said that the SNP had also secured the support of the Scottish Greens, who had formed a cooperation agreement with the SNP government, and who also backed independence and EU membership.
He said that the UK government had no democratic or moral authority to block a referendum, and that it would be a “grave mistake” to deny the will of the Scottish people. He said that the UK government should respect the Scottish Parliament’s right to legislate for a referendum, and that it should agree to a Section 30 order, which would transfer the legal power to hold a referendum to the Scottish Parliament.
He said that the SNP was ready to work with the UK government to agree on the terms and timing of a referendum, but that it would not accept any unreasonable delays or preconditions. He said that the SNP was confident that the Scottish people would vote for independence, as the polls had shown a consistent and sustained majority for independence since Brexit.
Scotland’s vision for Europe
Robertson said that Scotland had a strong and positive relationship with the EU, and that it shared the EU’s values of democracy, human rights, peace, cooperation and solidarity. He said that Scotland had contributed to the EU’s achievements and benefited from its opportunities, and that it wanted to continue to do so as an independent member state.
He said that Scotland had a clear vision for its role in Europe, and that it wanted to be a constructive and reliable partner, a bridge-builder and a peacemaker. He said that Scotland wanted to work with the EU and other European countries on the common challenges and opportunities facing the continent, such as climate change, Covid-19 recovery, security, trade, migration, education, culture and innovation.
He said that Scotland also wanted to maintain and strengthen its ties with the rest of the UK, as well as with other countries around the world, based on mutual respect and cooperation. He said that Scotland believed that independence and interdependence were not contradictory, but complementary, and that Scotland could be both a proud European nation and a good global citizen.
He said that Scotland was ready to rejoin the EU as soon as possible after independence, and that it would meet the criteria and follow the process for EU accession. He said that Scotland already complied with most of the EU’s rules and standards, and that it would adopt the euro as its currency once it met the economic and fiscal requirements. He said that Scotland would also respect the EU’s four freedoms, including the freedom of movement, which he said was a “precious right” for Scots and Europeans alike.
He said that Scotland hoped to receive a warm welcome and a smooth transition to EU membership, and that it counted on the support and friendship of the EU institutions and the other member states. He said that Scotland looked forward to rejoining the European family of nations, and to playing its part in shaping the future of Europe.