I’ve been struck in various meetings lately that there seems to be a bit of hopelessness setting in to discussions on Brexit, especially amongst those who are not involved in politics. The feeling seems to be that “it’s going to happen, it’s going to be bad and I need to work out my own escape route, what a mess”. I’m being asked what my own plans are when, well, you know, it happens.
Well I disagree. I don’t think anything about Brexit is inevitable, because the people supposedly in charge of it don’t know what they want, those opposed to it can’t agree on an alternative and we in Scotland don’t want it at all and voted clearly and decisively to reject it. I’m in a luckier position than many MEPs in that my constituency, the whole of Scotland, voted to remain in every counting region, from Shetland to Stranraer. My instructions are to keep us in, and properly ventilate each and every possible alternative.
First published in The National, 6 September 2017
So I’ve promised myself, my team, and I’ll repeat it here: I’m going to be the last soldier to emerge from the jungle on this one. I will not be complicit in an act of self harm, that is so demonstrably against the interest of the people I serve. For as long as I have a role, I have a responsibility and I’ll work with anyone anywhere to bring some sense to this whole business.
And the coalition is building. The Tories would dearly love us all to get to the back of the bus and leave them to it, we will not. In Ireland, North and South, there is a growing co-operation across some surprising party lines to bring some sense to the Brits, Scotland is part of that picture. We have a responsibility to all sides of the discussion in Northern Ireland, they’re some of our closest neighbours and we cannot allow the folly of Brexit to jeopardise a peace process that is still very fragile.
But meanwhile, I think there remains an argument to be won in Scotland about the benefits of EU membership, whatever happens. So I am publishing a guide to EU membership, and will be launching it at SNP conference in October in Glasgow.
It will build upon the publication we produced in the run up to the EU referendum itself, and be based upon the existing www.scotlandineurope.eu website, where we will be able to keep it up to date with the twists and turns the coming months and years will bring. The book itself will be a reference guide to how the EU works, and how our interests are best served by remaining within the EU family. Much as that is my firm conclusion, it will not be biased, it will deal with the reality of where we are, and explain it in order to inform the debate. I’ll do webstream interviews with Independence Live, I’ll go to any meeting that asks me (diary permitting, life’s complicated right now) to take the argument where it needs to be. Some people did vote Leave in Scotland, and where I respect those votes, I’ll spare no blushes in letting people know they were lied to by a dishonest campaign that promised the earth and is now betraying that trust. Most people voted Leave on an entirely false promise.
So I ask the readers of the National, and anyone else, what do you want in it? What do you want explained? Drop me a line to email@example.com and we’ll include it. I’m entirely convinced, having looked at all the options, that independence in Europe is our best future, but there’s a lot of twists and turns yet and there are other options to consider. But I know whatever happens the better we all understand EU stuff the better the discussion will be. I’m going to do my bit, and I’m in this for the long haul.