Scottish Labour MEP: Brexit process must change or Scotland will become independent 

06/04/2017
michael

UK’s most senior MEP: Scotland will be independent if Tories don’t change Brexit approach 

THE MOST SENIOR SCOTTISH LABOUR POLITICIAN in a major parliament, David Martin MEP, has spoken out on the prospect of Scotland becoming independent to escape the economic and political pain of Tory Brexit. 

Speaking in the European Parliament during today’s (Wednesday 5 April) debate on Brexit, Martin called for the Tories to compromise with the Scottish Government and warned that “if the UK does not show flexibility in these talks, it will not only be the UK leaving the EU but the UK will not exist any longer.”

Martin is the UK’s most senior MEP, having represented Scotland in Europe since 1984, including his present position as socialist spokesperson on trade issues. Martin, who opposed independence in 2014, also served on the Scottish Government’s Council on Europe – which proposed a compromise agreement to respect Scotland’s votes to remain in the UK and the EU. 

Read more – European Parliament backs Brexit plan to put ‘citizens first’ and keep EU united

However, that compromise proposal was never taken seriously by the UK Government – leading First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to call for powers to hold a fresh referendum on independence after a Brexit deal has been agreed. 

Martin, addressing colleagues, said there was now an urgent case to find a specific solution for Scotland: “In September 2014 I voted to keep Scotland in the UK union. In June 2016 I voted to keep the UK in the European Union. Today I face the reality that Brexit will remove my country from one union and leaves the other hanging by a thread.

“Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Edinburgh, a city I have represented in this house for 33 years, voted 75 per cent to 25 per cent to remain in the EU.

“If the UK does not show flexibility in these talks, it will not only be the UK leaving the EU but the UK will not exist any longer.” David Martin MEP

“The overwhelming feeling in Scotland is that we are being dragged out of Europe against our will – a feeling only compounded by Mrs May’s determination to pursue a hard Brexit for which she has no mandate.

“The resolution we are about to vote on recognises this fact but provides no solution. The Council document calls for flexible and imaginative solutions to be found for Ireland – I of course agree, but I think the same should also apply to Scotland. 

“The Scottish Government has put forward a bespoke proposal for Scotland that I think deserves serious attention in this house. In conclusion, president, I want to say that if the UK does not show flexibility in these talks, it will not only be the UK leaving the EU but the UK will not exist any longer.”

Martin has warned that Brexit brings long-term economic threats to Scotland and the UK, and that this changes the argument on Scottish independence. He told Good Morning Scotland that he did not know how he would vote in a future independence referendum. 

Read more – CommonSpace interview: Failure to “return to sanity” by Labour could doubt future of union – UK’s longest-serving MEP

Other Scottish Labour voices such as Simon Pia, John Home Robertson, Henry McLeish, Malcolm Chisholm, Martin Brown, and ex-Labour MP Eric Joyce have said they now support or are open to supporting Scottish independence following the Brexit vote. 

Ex-Labour figures like Dennis Canavan and John McAllion were for independence in 2014. Campaign group ‘Labour for independence’ toured Scotland in 2014 arguing that an independent Scotland would deliver a more socially just society that the Westminster system. The group has said its numbers have doubled since a fresh referendum proposal was called. 

Picture courtesy of European Parliament

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