Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon is asking the Scottish Parliament to vote next week on whether to hold a second referendum.
The result of that vote will then determine whether she seeks permission from the UK Government to hold another Scottish independence referendum, probably in late 2018 or early 2019, before the UK leave the European Union.
Aware that the remain vote was stronger in the Borders than almost anywhere else in Scotland in the 2014 referendum (66.6% voted to remain), the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, Calum Kerr (SNP) argues that there is nothing inevitable about this and that the UK Prime Minister could end the process tomorrow if she would just listen to the Scottish people.
“The First Minister requested a Section 30 Order which, if it is granted, would allow the Scottish Parliament to vote on whether to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.
“The First Minister also pointed out that the Scottish Government’s substantive proposals for Scotland to stay within the Single Market remain on the table.
“My party has a clear mandate to take this step: it is entirely consistent with the manifesto commitment that we stood on at last year’s Holyrood election.
“Yet the UK government have shown nothing but intransigence.
“I have witnessed concern across the rural economy about the enormous impact that Brexit could have on our rural way of life.
“That said, there’s no escaping the fact that voters in the Scottish Borders rejected independence by a considerable margin in 2014.
“Some of you will have changed your view given this new situation we find ourselves in and some of you will remain committed to the position you held in 2014.
“All of you remain my constituents regardless.
“My utmost priority as your local MP is to represent the Scottish Borders. My day to day work, campaigns and advocacy for the concerns of our region will always take precedence.
“Unlike in 2014, we know that change is coming either way. So the key question now is who we want to be in control of that change and what kind of country we want our children to grow up in.”
MSP John Lamont (Conservative), who represents Ettric, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, will be voting against the First Minister’s proposals for a second Scottish independence referendum. He said: “The Borders overwhelmingly rejected separation in 2014 and I have little doubt their opinion has not changed.
“This announcement from the First Minister represents a broken promise to the people of Scotland when she repeatedly said the 2014 vote was a ‘once in a generation’ event.
“Nicola Sturgeon has chosen the path of further division and further uncertainty. Far from trying to seek a compromise and standing up for Scotland, as the First Minister claims she has been doing, the SNP have been doing everything they can to further their obsession with separation.
“Leaving the EU will present challenges for Scotland, but none of these challenges are tackled by dragging Scotland out of the United Kingdom and a market worth four times as much as that of the EU.
“Scots don’t want this referendum, instead they want the SNP Government to be focusing on improving our schools, hospitals and roads.
“When the First Minister brings these proposals to the Scottish Parliament I shall, without hesitation, vote against her request to break up the United Kingdom.”