It’s not too late for Scotland to take back control from hard Brexiteers

Sometimes a strong government needs to make unpopular decisions that will benefit people down the line. The current UK Government, steered by hard-Brexit extremists and reliant on the DUP for its support, is not a strong government.

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First published in The National, 15 March 2018

It is a government in thrall to the shady interests and dodgy money of those who haven’t even been subtle about how much they hate the EU, not because of the EU itself but because it places limits on their own power.

Reality is now becoming clear. If you voted Leave, this is not the Brexit you were promised. Nobody voted to make themselves poorer. There is no £350 million for the NHS. There is no plan, just Tory puppets dancing on a string to the Eurosceptic tune. And the head Eurosceptics don’t have any plans for how to replace what we have now! There’s an arrogant attitude of “psst, I’ll be alright, someone else will work it out later”.

People have the right to believe the promises their politicians make, and lots of promises were made before the EU referendum. People were told that there were considerable upsides to voting Leave. Too late, the Brexiteers realised they didn’t know what to do with their win, so they’re desperately trying to spin hard Brexit as some kind of “vote for Britain” where if you point out something like Northern Ireland, you’re just not trying hard enough to make a success of it all.

Brexit is out of control. The powerful people pushing it have no need nor interest in ensuring a stable outcome for anyone but themselves; the politicians and useful media pundits aren’t calling the shots, and the ordinary voters are being led to think it will all be fine, that this is just hysteria because people don’t like change. Everyone is relying on someone else to work out the details and stop us from crashing on to the rocks.

Well, except in Scotland. I’m proud to be part of a team that is taking Brexit seriously. While Westminster wasted time with politicking and squabbles, Holyrood was producing plans, studies and analysis to give some kind of blueprint for the future.

Say it again for the people at the back: Scotland voted to Remain. They can’t keep repeating “will of the people, will of the people” in order to justify a hard Brexit and then ignore the democratic result of a country with devolved powers, its own parliament, a First Minister and all the other components that mean we deserve some damn respect.

So why are they trying to brush Scotland’s vote under the carpet? Because they just don’t get Scotland, and where even the Scottish Tories could have been hugely influential over this hapless UK Government, they’ve proven they are just human shields for Mrs May.

Right now, the Scottish Government is having to dig its heels in against the full might of the British state – might being the operative word since the UK Government doesn’t seem to have any certainty or indeed plan. Well, other than bellowing at us to stop pointing out unproductive things like facts. Make no mistake, this is a constitutional disaster driven by the worst kind of ideology; all the worse for the fact that it is led by people whose hearts clearly aren’t in it.

Where the independence movement wanted to build something better, something new, and produced almost endless documents, blueprints and visions of possible futures, the Brexit movement wants to tear down an existing structure with no idea of what to put in its place but misplaced nostalgia. The year 2014 was about the future; 2016 was about the past.

The hourglass is running out but it’s not too late to take back some real control and stop an unopposed Westminster from running our country into the ground.