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‘Clear mandate’ to remain in EU – SNP branch

SNP Shetland convener Robbie McGregor.

THE SNP’s Shetland convener is calling on local politicians to get behind a “clear mandate” from islanders to remain in the EU.

Robbie McGregor also said it was essential to ensure non-EU citizens living and working in the islands are reassured that they are still very much welcome here.

Shetland voted Remain by a margin of 56.5-43.5 per cent in Thursday’s in/out referendum on the EU membership.

Fifty two per cent of the UK voted to Leave, resulting in EU leaders calling on the government to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty so that two years of negotiations towards a UK withdrawal can begin.

With unprecedented political uncertainty and upheaval, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she thinks a second referendum on independence – after Scotland voted convincingly to stay in the EU – was “highly likely”.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott, who won a huge majority in May’s Holyrood elections, has already attempted to pour cold water on that suggestion.

SIC leader Gary Robinson, on the other hand, feels it may be time for Scotland to reconsider its constitutional status.

McGregor says it is important to explore “every avenue of negotiation” to prevent Shetland and Scotland being “dragged out of the EU against our will”.

“The First Minister has said that the machinery for a second independence referendum must be in place before the UK implements Article 50 but she is not saying we will have one,” he said.

“David Cameron has been advised that the Scottish Government must be involved directly in discussions on the next steps the UK Government intends to take.

“Shetland and Scotland have voted clearly that they wish to remain in the EU. We want to explore every way of ensuring that the democratic will of the people of Shetland and Scotland is delivered.

“This is a serious situation that we find ourselves in and I call on all politicians in Shetland to get behind the clear mandate of the Shetland people and ensure that we remain in the EU.”

McGregor said that he spoke to an EU citizen at the weekend who lives and works in the isles but does not hold a UK passport, who said the exit vote “made him feel unwelcome in the UK and he was unsure what the future holds”.

“I assured him that he and his family were welcome here in Shetland (and Scotland) and that SNP Shetland will support all persons who are in this position in Shetland,” he added. “I am delighted that Nicola Sturgeon has indicated strong support for EU workers living in Scotland.”

Meanwhile, Shetland’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) has reported that it has already been contacted by a number of EU citizens who are concerned about how the change will affect them and their families.

Bureau manager Karen Eunson said CAB wanted to reassure people that their rights would not be affected overnight.

“It is likely that some laws will change in the future but this will not happen immediately,” she said. “If you’re an EU citizen living in Shetland, your rights to live, work or get benefits won’t change until such time as the government passes new laws.

“If you’re a UK citizen living in the EU or travelling to the EU, your rights won’t change yet either. You don’t need to take any action now. Changes to the law will be announced before they happen, so you’ll have time to prepare if you’re affected.”

  • Anyone with concerns about how the decision to leave the EU may affect their rights can contact Shetland CAB for free, confidential and impartial advice by phoning (01595) 694696 or emailing sicab@shetland.org.
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