Brexit: Scotland only has one way to rejoin the EU and that's independence – Angus Robertson

Edinburgh is a European capital city. It has celebrated its links with the continent for centuries and fully embraced membership of the European Union over decades.

Tuesday, 19th January 2021, 7:00 am
Protesters take part in the March to Remain in the EU for Peace and Climate Action in Edinburgh in 2019 (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Tens of thousands of Edinburgh residents have come from different EU countries to make an outstanding contribution to the city, its economy, society and national life. It voted by one of the biggest margins in the country to remain in the European Union.

As the Brexit disaster unfolds with the fishing industry facing multi-million-pound losses and transportation and border problems beginning to bite for other sectors, UK opposition leaders have sadly walked away from defending links with European Union.

Sir Keir Starmer, who was elected as Labour leader with a key commitment to retain freedom of movement has now ditched his promise. Less than 10 months after making this one of his top ten pledges, Sir Keir told the Andrew Marr programme on BBC television that he would not campaign to restore free movement as it would require extensive renegotiation of the Brexit treaty.

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Brexit: Ed Davey says Lib Dems won't campaign to rejoin EU

He was followed on the political programme by Sir Ed Davey, of the Liberal Democrats, who has announced that his party will not be campaigning to rejoin the European Union.

This is in direct contradiction to the promises made by the Scottish Liberal Democrats that they would. Edinburgh Western Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton previously pledged: “We have a party policy on this, both at a Scottish level and at a federal level. If we leave the European Union… then this party will automatically pivot from the party of remain to the party of re-entry. I think we have to say that loud and clear and not be afraid of saying that. We will be the party of re-entry.” Just as the Lib Dems betrayed their commitment on university tuition fees, they are now walking away from their promises on the European Union.

For thousands of Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, the shocking Brexit conversion of their parties will make them question their continuing support. This helps explain the soaring support for the Scottish National Party and Scottish independence.

Scottish Saltires and Flags of Europe fly during the March to Remain in the EU in Edinburgh in 2019 (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

In recent days, the 18th poll in a row showed a majority for independence and the SNP was polling at 53 per cent support. In Edinburgh, the pro-Brexit Conservatives face losing Edinburgh Central, the Brexit U-turning Labour Party would lose Edinburgh South and Brexit sell-out Liberal Democrats would lose Edinburgh Western.

None of this is, of course, automatic. If Edinburgh’s pro-European electorate wants to elect pro-European candidates in the Scottish Parliament elections they will have to turnout and vote for them.

Opinion polls are no guarantee of success. Residents should make sure they are registered and given coronavirus restrictions should apply for a postal vote too. Not only should domestic voters who have been deprived of their EU citizenship against their will cast their ballots. So too should European and international residents who are entitled to vote and have been denied continuing residency in a European Union country.

Now that Labour and the Liberal Democrats have given up on the European Union there is only one major mainstream European option for Scotland: electing an SNP government, holding an independence referendum and rejoining the EU. Edinburgh is a European city and could soon become the capital of an EU member state.

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