We will never let the Tories forget Brexit – Daniel Johnson

Like many of my constituents I have already booked my summer holidays and I am looking forward to time spent with family in some sunshine. Except that there is still that feeling in the back of my mind that I don’t really know how easy this trip will be to make.

Monday, 11th March 2019, 5:00 am
Daniel Johnson is the Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern
Daniel Johnson is the Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern

Will there be a queue at the border or not? Will I need to organise visas for my family? How much more is this trip going to cost because of the result of a referendum born out of internal disputes within the Tory Party?

Despite the referendum taking place well over two years ago now, the shambolic negotiations that have ensued under the Tory Government have left the UK in an extremely precarious position. A position where we still have no real idea what is going to happen.

With the deadline for a deal less than three weeks away that is frightening. If you are an EU citizen living in Edinburgh, I can only imagine the very real concerns that you must have.

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It is a terrible feeling when people who have been here for years come to you with their fears, and you can offer no real concrete assurances about what life will be like in only a few weeks’ time.

That is all the more shocking considering the benefits that my constituency, and Edinburgh as a whole, has drawn being part of the European Union and having 39,000 non-UK EU nationals living in the city. They play an absolutely vital role in key sectors. EU nationals make up 17 per cent of all University of Edinburgh staff and around a third of academics in King’s Buildings. And five per cent of all jobs in Edinburgh are filled by workers from EU countries.

Alongside areas like academia we have the financial services industry. Standard Life has over 500,000 retail customers in Germany alone that cannot be serviced from Edinburgh once we leave the single market. For a relatively small population here in Edinburgh, 13 per cent of all Britain’s banking jobs are based in the city.

All of this is being put at risk because of a miscalculated game of constitutional politics played by the Tory Party.

Last week in Holyrood there was a debate on the EU Withdrawal Negotiations. It is disappointing that not one of the Lothian Tory MSPs even spoke in the debate. It is even worse that none of them have even raised the impact that the withdrawal will have since November 2017. In a city that voted comprehensively against Brexit, this is simply not credible.

While they have remained silent on this issue Ian Murray MP and I have been hosting public meetings to engage with constituents, and take their views back into the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

How can the Lothian Tory MSPs claim to represent their constituents when they refuse to stand against the disaster that would be a no-deal Brexit? They are simply apologists for a broken Tory Brexit. Brexit will be the Tory Party’s legacy and we will never let them forget, because at the end of the day all this disruption, all of these muddled and ill thought through negotiations, have a very real cost to people living and working in Edinburgh.

Daniel Johnson is the Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern