Tue 7 Feb, 2017

Transcript of speech from 7 Feb 2017

Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for braving the wintry weather and coming along this afternoon to make your voices heard! I am Maggie Chapman, co-convener of the Scottish Greens, and I am pleased to see so many of you here.

We know that 62% of Scots voted to remain in the European Union. We know that many who voted to leave did so on the basis of staying in the single market. We know that many others who voted to leave now wished they had not.

So we are here to send support to those in the Scottish Parliament Chamber who we know are doing what they can to make the case for Scotland to remain part of the EU as strong as possible.

We are here to show our support for those Scottish MPs in Westminster who not only refused to vote to trigger Article 50, but who continue to do what they can to make our case heard.

And we are here to show Theresa May, Boris Johnson and David Mundell, and the rest of the UK government and many of the other UK politicians that they cannot, they must not, ignore us.

The Leave campaign won the vote in June last year by saying we would have £350million a week extra for the NHS. They said we would have security of funding for our research and higher education institutions. They promised us that we would stay part of the single market, protecting jobs and trade. They promised us that we would get our sovereignty back.

What we've got, instead, are

  • Threats of the UK becoming a racist theme park for tax avoiders
  • Threats to EU nationals that they'd be used as bargaining chips in negotiations
  • Threats of a hard border between Scotland and England if we pursue our quest for independence
  • Threats of reduced funding for our public services as dodgy deals are sought with private education, social care and health companies in the US and elsewhere.
  • And no real engagement with the Scottish people, nevermind our Parliament or elected representatives as part of the negotiations.

The UK government has treated Scotland with utter contempt in this whole process. But we will not stay silent in response.

It is not ok to silence our parliamentarians the way the Deputy Speaker silenced Joanne Cherry yesterday.

It is not ok to threaten us with a hard border with England should Scotland become independent, whilst saying that of course, a soft border between the Republic of Ireland and the North is not only possible but the preferred, and an easy, option, and that England expects a ‘frictionless border with the EU’.

It is not ok to seek arrangements for private companies regarding trade and employment regulations when they refuse to agree to negotiate a specific deal for Scotland, given our democratic decision.

If they can do a deal for the north of Ireland, for the City of London, and even for Nissan motors, they can do a deal for Scotland.

It is not ok to start punting around for buyers for our public services, whether it is the NHS or anything else.

Some Brexit proponents knew exactly what they were doing: force a crisis, then use that crisis to demolish the remnants of the state - privatise the NHS, end state education, turn the UK into a free market fantasy where the people are at the mercy of the wealthy. The UK government are giving every impression that they want to subject Scots to that fate - even though we have, at every turn rejected this dystopian nightmare.

And it is not ok to make such a mockery of the devolution settlements that have been negotiated and agreed over the past 20 years.

We must make sure we make our voices heard.

The vote taking place inside our parliament today is symbolic. But symbols are a vital part of any political culture. And this symbol, will, I hope, show that Scotland remains a proud member of the European Union. It shows that we want Scotland to be an open, outward looking country. It shows that we reject the xenophobic, small-minded and divisive politics of Westminster, and instead open our arms to our neighbours across the continent of which we are a part.

And your presence here is important too: it shows that you will not be silenced. Together, we will continue to stand together, and fight for our democracy.

Thank you all. And I look forward to seeing you all over the coming weeks, months and years, as we continue to work together to create the Scotland we all want to see.

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