In the aftermath of the vote to leave the EU, CommonSpace columnist James McEnaney lays out what he thinks the Scottish Labour leader should say.
TWO years ago, my party campaigned against Scottish independence. We did that because we truly believed that keeping the United Kingdom together was the best way to help the people of Scotland. We did it because we believe in the pooling and sharing of resources, and that we are stronger when we stand together.
Ultimately, a majority of Scots agreed with us. They voted No in 2014 because they wanted to avoid the potential economic turmoil of a Yes vote. They voted No because they wanted to protected Scotland’s place in the EU. They voted No because they believed that a united future was a better future.
55% of Scots rejected independence and settled the matter for at least a generation.
But many of those people will now feel that the situation has changed dramatically.
I’m here today to tell you that Scottish Labour agrees with them.
Things have changed.
While the UK has voted to leave the EU, 62% of Scottish voters want to stay. Every single local authority in this country backed Remain. The dishonest, hateful, divisive politics of Farage, Johnson and Gove have been resolutely rejected by the people of Scotland.
The people of Scotland voted decisively against independence in 2014, but they have now voted against Brexit by an even greater margin. That matters. The will of the Scottish people could scarcely be clearer, and it must not be ignored.
So we support Nicola Sturgeon in her fight to keep Scotland in the EU, but I want to be absolutely clear today about what that means.
If it becomes apparent that independence is the only way to protect Scotland’s status as an EU nation, then Scottish Labour will not attempt to stand in the way of a second referendum.
In fact, our MSPs will vote in favour of it.
This does not mean that we will automatically campaign for independence – those discussions, which might be extremely difficult, are yet to take place. But they will take place.
The most important thing right now, however, is to send an unequivocal message that the democratic will of the Scottish people will not be ignored or easily dismissed.
We will not be dragged out of Europe without a fight, and Scottish Labour is ready to join that fight.