Time to stop banging on about independence

MSP Finlay Carson
MSP Finlay Carson

I read with interest Mr Arkless’s ‘View from Westminster’ column last week “Leaving the European Union will be catastrophic for Scottish exports.”

While an entertaining read, I was troubled by some of the logic and (dare I say) selective arguments made.

I thought it might be therefore useful to shed a little more light on the position we find ourselves in, and the abundance of opportunities open to Scotland when forging our future relationship with the world.

I think it is worth beginning by saying that I too voted remain. I believed that while the EU is by no means a well-oiled machine, our membership brought a range of benefits.

However, the UK voted to leave the European Union, and as a democrat, I respect the democratic will of the people.

There are a huge range of opportunities to be gained in Scotland from Brexit and it is time that this SNP Government engage constructively to get the best possible deal for Scotland.

Instead, the SNP have been threatening the people of Scotland with yet another unwanted independence referendum.

The claim: Independence is looking increasingly like the only way to achieve the democratic will of the people of Scotland. Interesting, given that 2 million Scots voted to remain in the UK with a record turnout only two years ago, a great deal more than voted to remain in the EU.

I struggle to see quite how they arrive at this conclusion.

Mr Arkless suggests in his column that the free trade agreements signed by the European Union have been vital to boosting Scotland’s exports, and indeed, our exit from the EU will be ‘catastrophic’ in terms of trade.

I’m delighted to see that Mr Arkless is in favour of free trade agreements as his SNP colleagues in the European Parliament just last week voted against the EU-Canada Trade Agreement (CETA).

The Prime Minister has made free trade a priority for the UK and one of her first acts was establishing the Department for International Trade, so that as soon as we have exited the EU we are poised to negotiate our own free trade agreements, a process that should be quicker and more effective without 27 other countries taking part.

Mr Arkless went on to say that “Scotland’s economy depends upon access to the single market. It is around eight times bigger than the UK market and is vital for our jobs and businesses.”

He will again be pleased to know that the Prime Minister has repeatedly committed to ensuring the “freest possible trade” with the EU.

The rest of the UK is worth four times as much to the economy of Scotland than that of the EU. With the SNP now such champions of free trade, do they really believe that taking Scotland out of this market in order to remain within the EU is quite the right move for the future success of businesses in Scotland?

So here is my challenge to Mr Arkless and his SNP colleagues: give up your relentless grievance agenda, drop the divisive and utterly unwanted threats of a second independence referendum and get on with the job of running our country.

Because that is what the people of Scotland deserve.