It has been two years since the Brexit referendum. Scotland’s clear vote to remain a member of the EU is being ignored by a blinkered and shambolic UK Government which is paralysed by infighting and held hostage by its own hard right extremists, intent on pursuing their fantasy interpretation of a long gone era.
We know how damaging any Brexit and especially their planned Hard Brexit will be on Scotland. Analysis after analysis has predicted huge jobs losses and drops in real wages, top of the loss of rights and protections for people and the environment. We cannot allow this to happen.
The Scottish Greens have been working hard to halt this blind march towards a Hard Brexit and ensure that Scotland’s vote to remain is recognised.
Here are eight things we have done:
Let Scotland Stay – In the hours after it became clear that Leave would win across the UK, despite a huge Remain vote in Scotland, we launched the Let Scotland Stay campaign, which over forty thousand people joined within a matter of days, sending a powerful message that our fight to stay in Europe is not over.
We were also involved in the second, even bigger rally, held in the evening, where thousands attended to show their support for the EU. Green MSP Alison Johnstone addressed the crowd and made clear our commitment to uphold our hard-won rights as EU citizens.
European Greens Declare for Scotland – We have worked tirelessly with colleagues across Europe to keep Scotland’s options open and keep politicians in Brussels & across national capitals aware of our situation.
Immediately after the Brexit vote, the co-chairs of the Greens/Free Alliance group in the European Parliament declared their support for Scotland.
And in December 2016 we brought the European Green Party to Scotland for a meeting of the EGP Council, where on behalf of our 38 member parties and hundreds of elected representatives, many of whom are in government, the EGP declared that all options must be open for Scotland and Northern Ireland to stay in the European Union.
Fifty European Politicians for Scotland – Following the Westminster Government’s activation of Article 50 German Green MEP Terry Reintke and myself coordinated with politicians across the political spectrum all over Europe to sign a joint letter in April 2017 stating that an independent Scotland would be welcome in the EU.
Meeting with Michel Barnier. In September 2017, I met with Michel Barnier, lead negotiators for the EU, to raise concerns about Scotland’s place in the negotiations, including the issue of the UK negotiators putting devolved issues on the table. He provided assurances that he was well informed about Scotland’ concerns.
Despite his initial commitment to doing so, David Davis, UK Brexit Secretary has refused to meet the Scottish Parliament’s Europe Committee. We have met the other side’s negotiator but not our own, showing clearly the contempt the UK Government has for Scotland.
Preparing For Impact paper - In October 2017 I set out our priorities in a position paper, Preparing for Impact. It proposes that we prioritise devolution of migration and workers’ rights to ensure that we can continue free movement, end the hostile environment, and ensure that vital employment protections are upheld. This paper was launched at the Languages Hub in Glasgow, where I spoke to a number of EU citizens about their concerns over Brexit.
Amending the Continuity Bill. Westminster’s EU Withdrawal Bill strips away our rights and amounts to a power grab from the Scottish Parliament. As well as rejecting it, the Scottish Parliament passed our own alternative, the Continuity Bill.
Green MSPs Patrick Harvie, Mark Ruskell and myself played a key role shaping the Continuity Bill to ensure it retains vital environmental protections and other basic rights and has appropriate democratic safeguards.
Grilling David Mundell – This shambles of a Westminster Government are making an already disastrous situation worse every day. On the rare occasion that UK ministers appear before us at Holyrood we do not miss the opportunity to grill them over the unfolding shambles, as I did recently with David Mundell and Robin Walker. Have a watch, though don’t expect to be reassured by their ‘answers’!
As Brexit continues to develop, the Greens will fight to ensure that Scotland’s vote to remain is recognised. We must ensure that Scotland retains as close a relationship to the EU as possible, and is not dragged into a Hard Brexit by Westminster.