In post Brexit Scotland there is a real opportunity to set a new vision and new settlement more akin to home rule within the UK, more like a federal union that is part of a revised UK constitutional settlement whilst retaining the best aspects of a positive relationship with Europe.
Yet to date, the SNP talk only of the benefits of being in Europe and the disadvantages of being in the UK whilst the Tories talk only of the benefits of being in the UK and disadvantages of being in Europe. So Scotland is in danger of being stuck for years trapped between these two polar opposites.
Both are playing a dangerous game, and it is becoming abundantly clear that neither are the wiser as to what to do. The UK is a sovereign state in Brexit turmoil and in Scotland we must not allow a second referendum to continue to be the distraction that creates divisions and removes our focus from finding the best Brexit deal for our country.
It is absolutely crucial that all parties in Scotland focus the debate on Brexit setting forth a case to protect working people’s employment rights, pay and pensions and the role of Trade Unions. Labour will lead the debate to oppose any further austerity measures that threaten public services, jobs and economic growth. We must have the confidence to address the causes of 21st century poverty in Scotland, the crisis in living standards and the inhumane excesses of globalisation.
Our country is currently divided between those who are described as Unionists and those described as Nationalists.
It is essential in this time of turmoil, that in Scotland we have an inclusive discussion about the big issues and challenges for our country moving forward, and we should not be distracted by arguments about a second referendum. It would be sheer madness to go for a second referendum without knowing the terms of Brexit, and it would be a betrayal of Scotland to put a second referendum ahead of getting the best Brexit deal for Scotland. We should not play into the Tory trap and end up with whatever Boris Johnson and Theresa May eventually agree, and that is why, 100 days after the Brexit vote and with no progress made, I think we must remove the distraction of a second referendum from this term of the Scottish Parliament and focus all our efforts on getting the best deal for Scotland.
We should move beyond the Conservative status quo verses the SNP independence and set out a new vision for Scotland with a revised constitutional settlement within the UK whilst retaining the best aspects of a positive relationship with Europe protecting access to trade, investment and labour.
I believe we can find common ground moving forward. We are already seeing this with politicians across parties setting out the case for the transfer of powers from Europe direct to Scotland such as agriculture and fisheries. There is uncertainty over the future of the Social Chapter in UK law and the Scottish Parliament might claim a new power to legislate in areas covered by the Chapter. The key point is that we must step back from divisive and inflammatory rhetoric and ensure Scotland is at the table leading the debate on what Brexit means for our country and for the UK.
Our responsibility now is to find a common purpose that we can unite around and start building a positive future, and if we don’t manage this, Scotland’s future generations will suffer.