Scottish parties trade blows on EU stances
Nicola Sturgeon has launched a scathing attack on the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, accusing her of selling out over Brexit.
During the EU referendum campaign, Ruth Davidson won plaudits for her robust campaigning in support of continued membership of the European Union, especially her readiness to confront Boris Johnson during the final BBC debate.
Despite speaking publicly since the referendum of wanting the UK to stay in the single market, last month Davidson led her Scottish Conservative MSPs in opposing a motion tabled by the Scottish government.
The motion called for ‘clarity from the UK government on its proposals to leave the EU, including whether it will seek continued membership of the single market’, and called for the UK government to:
“seek to maintain Scotland’s place in the single market, and, in the event that the UK Government cannot or will not secure that option, calls for Scotland’s place in the single market to be fully protected.”
The Scottish Conservatives, alongside the Liberal Democrats who opposed the motion and Scottish Labour which abstained, did so out of fear support for the motion could be used by the SNP for a future bid for Scottish independence.
Speaking to the SNP’s national council in Perth following a week that saw the Chancellor ruled out any special deal for Scotland post-Brexit, Sturgeon accused the Scottish Conservatives of ignoring the wishes of the 62 per cent of Scots who voted to Remain.
‘The Scottish Tories,’ she said, ‘are not just putting party before country – they’re putting the right-wing of the Tory party before country.’ Sturgeon continued:
“They are embarrassed that there was an overwhelming majority for Remain in Scotland.
They seek to scare people into believing that they have no option but to accept any amount of economic pain from a Tory Brexit – regardless of how they voted.
The Tories want to silence Scotland. But we, the SNP, will make Scotland’s voice heard.”
With the Supreme Court set to meet today for the first time to consider the UK government’s appeal to the High Court ruling that parliament should vote on triggering Article 50, Sturgeon continued:
“When it comes to Europe the Scottish Tories are showing their true colours.
Week after week in the Scottish parliament the Tories vote against continuing membership of the European Single Market. They’ve turned their backs on the moderates in their own party.
They’re now enthusiastic members of the Conservative faction which has hijacked the EU referendum result and is demanding a hard Brexit.”
In a personal attack on the Scottish Conservative Leader, she continued:
“In a televised debate during the referendum campaign, Ruth Davidson denounced the Brexiteers as selling a ‘lie’.
But she is now guilty of a sell-out on the commitment to single market membership she advocated both before and after the EU referendum.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives responded:
“The SNP doesn’t have form for respecting the outcome of referendums, and it’s proving as much again today.
Ruth Davidson is the only party leader in Scotland who has accepted the result, and now wants to make it work for Scotland.
Everyone else, especially Nicola Sturgeon, is in denial.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale will this week give a major speech on the Scotland’s constitutional future in an effort to address the issue, which has in large part led to the party’s decline north of the border.
Speaking at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London on Wednesday, Dugdale will say the Conservatives’ ‘Brexit gamble’ has ‘reopened the fresh divides of the independence referendum’ and once again put the future of the UK at risk.
She will tell the audience:
“Politics driven by nationalism and identity has now taken its place firmly in the mainstream of all UK politics. …
The Tories, whether Ruth Davidson or Theresa May, cannot for a moment pretend that they have not put the union at risk, when their party has stoked nationalism in England and with Brexit, provided Nicola Sturgeon with the excuse she needed to reopen the constitutional debate.”
Pledging to stand up for Scotland’s place in the UK, Dugdale will declare that ‘our union is worth fighting for’, and that ‘only Scottish Labour can stand up for what the majority of Scots want, maintaining our relationship with Europe and securing our place in the United Kingdom.’
Ed Jacobs is contributing editor to Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.