The Scottish Government was elected in May 2016 on a manifesto which stated:
“The Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there
is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such
as Scotland being taken out the EU against our will.”
There was no question, about the legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament and the
people of Scotland being able to revisit the question of independence if those exact circumstances occurred.
And when just over a month later the UK went to the polls and decided to Leave the EU while Scotland voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU, this gave the Scottish Parliament a mandate for an independence referendum.
And, indeed from the morning after the vote we were promised an independence referendum was back on the table, we were promised a choice in our future.
At first the Scottish Government looked to save Scotland’s place in the single market either by the UK remaining or a differentiated deal for Scotland. Even the Tories agreed that Scotland should stay in the single market, but when their Westminster bosses told them No, they predictably put Tory-interest ahead of their country.
When it became obvious that Westminster was not interested in anything Scotland had to say. Nicola Sturgeon announced an independence referendum for the Autumn of 2018 or the Spring of 2019, and kicked off the ‘ScotRef’ ring-fenced fundraising campaign which is now a touchy subject.
Spring 2019 came and went we were now waiting until the terms of Brexit were known. And the SNP were putting all their energies into the ‘People’s Vote’ a campaign for a re-run of the EU referendum.
Week after week we were reassured that ‘Scotland would not be dragged out of the EU against our will’ until we were. In the end our government did nothing to protect us and we lost our EU citizenship.
On January 31st 2020 Scotland left the transition period with the rest of the UK and left behind all the benefits.
We have lost single market membership including the four freedoms; to live or work in any EU country; to sell goods anywhere in the EU; to provide services anywhere in the EU; and the free movement of capital.
We have lost the guarantee of high food & environmental standards which meant unscrupulous companies could not get away with selling contaminated food or polluting our rivers and countryside.
We have lost consumer rights across the EU such as money back on returned products or refunds if a train or plane journey is delayed or cancelled.
We have lost human rights such as the right to equal treatment for all regardless of a person's nationality, sex, language group, culture, profession, disability or sexuality.
We’ve lost EU roaming for phone and online services and we have lost access to our online video and music streaming services across the EU.
We have lost access to EU programmes like Erasmus+ and exchange schemes.
We have lost the protection of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights which protects workers from unfair treatment and bans discrimination, including in the areas of pay and dismissals.
These are just some of the many advantages we have lost due to a decision of Westminster Tories against the expressed will of the Scottish people, Scotland’s MPs and Scotland’s parliament.
We should be angry in fact we should be furious. It is outrageous what the UK government have done to us, they have removed our EU citizenship but we should also be angry with our own politicians who stood by and let them do it. Despite their mandate and despite their promises.
Maybe it is our own fault for being too weak, for not properly holding our politicians to account, for not having the courage to stand up and protect the rights of future generations of Scots. We have let our children and grandchildren down they will have a life limited by the North Sea, trapped on this Island under right wing governments they will never vote for. Do we want that future for them or do we want independence?
If we choose independence we have to move forward from where we are now, our EU membership for the time being is lost but there are still options for Scotland.
If we look at the EU institutions, we can decide what we need most, there is the single market with the four freedoms and common policies, the customs union where the EU negotiates trade deals as a single entity; and the European Economic Area (EEA) the single market without common agriculture or fisheries.
EEA membership would see Scotland back in the single market. It could be negotiated in months rather than years and we could negotiate in parallel with independence negotiations.
EEA membership is available to members of the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA). Which also provides for co-operation in areas including research and development, education, social policy, the environment, consumer protection, tourism and culture. Scotland could join EFTA as an EEA member alongside Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
This would reduce the economic damage of Brexit and ensure that Scotland started life as an independent country in a stronger economic position than it had as part of the UK.
Questions of whether Scotland joined the Customs Union and of full EU membership would be decisions for an independent Scottish parliament.
Scotland has been badly let down over Brexit. In a few weeks we have the opportunity to set Scotland on a different path, a path back into Europe with all the benefits that will bring. Do this for ourselves but also for future generations – vote SNP on the constituency ballot and vote ALBA on the regional list ballot – put Scotland’s future as a European trading nation back into Scotland’s hands.