UK Government Losing Friends on Scotland's Behalf

19 January 2009
SNP Member of the European Parliament and Member of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iceland, Mr Alyn Smith has today (Monday) lent his weight to a petition organised by a non-political grassroots campaign critical of the UK government's use of anti-terror legislation in acting against the Icelandic economy.

The petition on www.indefence.is aims to encourage understanding between the people of Iceland and the UK, but Mr Smith is at pains to stress that the actions of the UK government, and in particular the comments made by some UK Ministers, do not reflect the views of the government or people of Scotland.

Smith's move comes in the wake of comments from the Icelandic Prime Minister and President hugely critical of the actions of the UK government.

Speaking from Brussels, Smith said:

"I'm pleased to sign this petition, I have already been in touch with a number of Icelandic politicians to stress that the UK Labour Ministers do not speak for Scotland. I am firmly of the view that the actions of the UK Labour government in freezing the assets of Icelandic banks was not only legally dubious, but did a great deal to tip the banks over the edge where the situation could have been actively managed.

"Some of the comments, especially from the Secretary of State for Scotland Jim Murphy, added insult to injury, and his politically motivated attack on small countries now seems as illogical as it was hysterical.

"There is no question that the Icelandic banks have brought a great deal of trouble to the Icelandic economy. However, it is also clear that Iceland's economy will bounce back, and I wish our Icelandic friends every luck in doing so.

"I spend a great deal of time in Iceland and am struck every time I visit by the similarities between Scotland and Iceland, and the depths of understanding and familiarity between our peoples. There is not an Icelander who has not been shopping in Buchanan Street in Glasgow or golfing in Scotland, Iceland is one of our closest neighbours and it saddened me greatly that the UK government was so quick to throw that goodwill out of the window. I hope that the Icelanders will see that the UK government does not speak for Scotland."