On June 23rd 2016, Scotland voted overwhelmingly – by 62% – to remain in the European Union. Indeed, my own constituency voted by more than two-thirds to remain. The Scottish Government’s position is that the will of the Scottish people must be upheld.
In 2014, ahead of the Scottish Independence Referendum, Westminster unionist political parties told the people of Scotland that a No vote would secure our nation’s place in the European Union as part of the UK. Whilst claims that Scotland choosing to become independent would result in the country being ejected from the EU are completely baseless and false, nevertheless it is undeniable that this was a major plank of the No campaign and many people in Scotland rightly feel that they were sold a falsehood as they voted by a small margin to stay in the UK and by a large majority to stay in the EU.
Whilst the wishes of the people of Scotland were clear in last year’s referendum, the Scottish Government has lobbied the UK Government for a compromised approach that would ensure that Scotland would be able to retain the rights and privileges of the European Single Market and the Customs Union once the UK leaves the EU. However, to date, the UK Government has stubbornly refused to make such a commitment, instead aiming for what is known as a ‘Hard Brexit’ where we leave the Single Market too.
By Stirling Constituency MSP, Bruce Crawford
Last week, the Tory Chancellor detailed a Budget with an economic forecast for the UK that, to say the least was gloomy in its outlook. UK growth is set to slow down considerably – meaning that, in terms of growth, the UK is lagging behind much of Europe and the rest of the economically developed world.
One major issue that emerged from the Budget that must be must be addressed, head on, is the phantom £2 billion of additional funding to be given to Scotland. After 10 years of cuts to Scotland’s budget totalling £2.9 billion, I would have welcomed any real increase in funding for our public services. That said, the Tory con of such a large amount of cash may have scored a couple of headlines, but the reality is quite stark and different on the ground.
For a start, by far the majority of money allocated by the Chancellor is specifically for financial transactions that must be paid back to the Treasury. This means that this money cannot be used for the day-to-day running of Scotland’s vital public services (e.g. Health, education, fire and rescue).
So far from being a funding increase, the money allocated from Westminster to Scotland is actually to be reduced by £213 billion, in real terms, and this will create additional real strain for Scotland’s public services. We should of course always remember this is our own money being returned to us with a cut.