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Election letters 2019 / ‘The last thing we want for Christmas is Brexit’

On 12 December voters will be going to the polls for the fourth time in the last four years. This General Election is largely an unwanted Christmas present.

Brexit started off as a spat between the Tory/UKIP wing and the slightly more moderate Tories, which has long since got out of hand. The political culture in Tory Westminster circles has become more toxic and more extreme, over the past few years.

The majority of Remain supporting Tory MPs, some former cabinet members have been pushed out, as the Tory Party has moved to the right, effectively absorbing UKIP and Farage’s Brexit Party.

The June 2016 Brexit Referendum resulted in a very narrow ‘Leave the EU’ majority. However as notable European leaders such as Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, Angela Merkel, former UK Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon have all pointed out, this was based on lies and misinformation.

The red bus is history but the collateral damage to politics and government at Westminster remains.

The UK Tory government has moved to the hard right and talk about trading friendship and cultural links with our close European neighbours and friends and trading partners as bad and not good. This is clearly nonsense, given that around half of business, in the form of exports, imports and invisibles are concerned.

The Tory government is now dominated by increasingly out of touch, mostly male, former public schoolboys with an unhealthy sense of entitlement, intent on damaging and shrinking the UK economy.

The situation has not been helped by a weak, poorly led Labour leadership over the past four years. While Corbyn himself lacks vision and economic expertise, he has a number of able people around him, some of which are likely to be re-electe in England.

The Lib Dems have in Jo Swinston a new leader who as an MP has been closely identified with her close support for the Tories, voting for rather than against them around 90 per cent of the time.

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They would have been more effective, at UK level, had they been led by more inclusive Ed Davey, a former Tory-Lib Dem energy minister, who was less vocal in support of the Tories.

Most people in Scotland and rest of UK are intelligent enough to know that Brexit cannot be done and delivered by Christmas.

It’s costs and damaging effects will last for 10, 20 or 30 years ahead. The SNP and the Lib Dems have been leading opposition to Brexit, at Westminster, more recently, while the SNP and Greens have been the strongest opponents of Brexit at Holyrood.

The difference is that the SNP will always stand up strongly for Scotland and its interests.

Neither Theresa May nor Boris Johnston have been prepared to discuss Brexit with the Scottish and Welsh governments, leaving a massive democratic deficit.

Since 2014, Scotland has been lucky to have been led by a moderate astute leader, Nicola Sturgeon who has shown leadership, intelligence and integrity.

Most SNP MPs, MSPs, and MEPs and now Westminster candidates have been able and outward looking and well known, locally. This is true for all parts of Scotland.

Robert Leslie, the Orkney and Shetland SNP Candidate for 12 December general election and Tom Wills, the SNP Shetland candidate at the recent Holyrood by-election both fit into this category.

SNP elected members in all three parliaments, Scotland, UK and Europe are also well regarded by many of our neighbours, south of the Border in the rest of UK, Ireland and in 26 other EU countries. The type of politics we have experienced in Scotland over the past twelve years has been, sadly, largely absent in England.

Our European neighbours follow UK Westminster politics and government very closely. There is a huge reservoir of goodwill towards Scotland in Europe and beyond.

All problems ultimately have solutions. The most immediate solution at this Brexit election would be for UK voters to kick out the Tories from Westminster.

According to the polls, a majority of UK voters would like to revoke Article 50 and kick Brexit into the long grass, permanently.

Brexit has financial, economic and social consequences for all of us, and it will continue to cause division for years to come. Present day UK is more divided than at any time, since the end of World War 2 in 1945.

One of those consequences has been the re-ignition of a strong desire for Scottish Independence, driven strongly by a younger generation of voters, including first time voters who have most to lose from Brexit.

Scotland is surrounded by an arc of prosperous and well-governed independent countries; Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Scotland’s parliament clearly needs to have more powers so that major decisions involving Scotland are taken in Scotland, not imposed on it. While full financial independence would be a huge step forward, it is unlikely that UK Tory or Labour dominated governments of the future will offer this.

The people of Scotland can no longer rely on others solving their problems for them. Countries with similar populations, such as Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Finland all benefit by taking their own decisions. There is no doubt that Brexit has raised political aspiration, in Scotland so that full independence is the preferred destination.

Given that the people of Scotland voted by almost two to one at the Brexit referendum in June 2016 and again at the June 2019 European election, this is likely to be as an EU Member.

The last thing we need or I want for Christmas is Brexit.

John Mowat

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