It’s time to decide our own future
What a morning!
When I launched the SNP campaign in this room just over a month ago, I could not reasonably have hoped for a more emphatic victory for the SNP in this election.
Last night the SNP won an incredible 80% of seats in Scotland – an overwhelming endorsement of our campaign and message. It is clear that the kind of future desired by the majority in Scotland is different to that chosen by the rest of the UK.
👇 The SNP have won a historic 3rd Westminster election.
🏴 Scotland has chosen a different path. #GE2019 pic.twitter.com/DGOszisF4d
— The SNP (@theSNP) December 13, 2019
Scotland has rejected Boris Johnson and the Tories and, yet again, we have said no to Brexit.
During this campaign I said repeatedly that all elections are important but that this one really mattered. I said the very future of Scotland was on the line.
Last night was indeed a watershed moment.
So today as we reflect on the outcome, we should also look ahead. This morning I want to address both the people of Scotland and the Prime Minister directly.
To the people of Scotland I want to say thank-you. Thank-you for the overwhelming victory you gave the SNP last night.
The SNP will never take you for granted.
We will continue to work every day to earn your trust – however you voted last night – both in government at Holyrood and in opposition at Westminster.
We will focus relentlessly on building a fairer and more prosperous country for everyone who lives here.
We will continue to promote the outward-looking, internationalist values that are so firmly at the heart of the SNP’s vision for Scotland.
And we will do whatever we can to protect Scotland from what I fear will be a deeply damaging Tory government.
That means we will stand firm in our defence of our NHS. We will resist to the very best of our ability the ultra-Brexit Tory ideology that threatens a race to the bottom on issues like environmental protections, food standards and workers’ rights.
And we will stand up for the rights of those from other European countries who have chosen to live here.
I want to briefly address them directly today too. I am very aware that, for you, this may be the most difficult day since the morning after the Brexit vote. So let me say this again and from the heart – you are welcome here, we value your contribution and I will fight with everything I have to protect your right to call Scotland your home.
Elections can be bruising events.
So let me congratulate all those candidates last night who won, and commiserate with those who lost. Despite the hard-fought nature of this election campaign, I believe – and hope – we can now agree on two fundamental points.
Firstly, it is now clear beyond any doubt that the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland want to remain in the European Union.
That verdict was first delivered in the referendum in 2016.
It was re-inforced in the general election of 2017.
It was strengthened in the European election earlier this year.
And last night it was emphatically confirmed.
Westminster has ignored people in Scotland for three year. Last night the people of Scotland said – enough.
It is time for Boris Johnson to start listening.
I accept – regretfully – that he has a mandate for Brexit in England. But he has no mandate whatsoever to take Scotland out of the EU.
If he presses ahead he will drive a coach and horses through the very idea that is supposed to underpin the UK – the idea that this union is a partnership of equal nations.
That brings into sharp relief the second fundamental principle that I believe we in Scotland can unite around: that Scotland’s future should be in Scotland’s hands.
I acknowledge that not absolutely everyone who voted SNP yesterday is ready to support independence. But the point of unity that I do believe exists is this.
Whether or not Scotland becomes an independent country must be a matter for the people who live here – and for all of us, wherever we come from.
It is not a decision for any Westminster Prime Minister – and certainly not for one who suffered a crushing defeat in Scotland last night.
The Tories fought the campaign in Scotland on a single issue. They spoke about nothing else. They bombarded people in Scotland with the same relentless message day after day and night after night. They said a vote for them was a vote to deny people in Scotland the right to decide our own future.
They said it was a vote to reject an independence referendum:
Well, yesterday, the people of Scotland rejected the Tories instead.
This stunning election win last night for the SNP renews, reinforces and strengthens the mandate we have from previous elections to offer the people of Scotland a choice over their future. That mandate says it is for the Scottish Parliament – not a Westminster government – to decide whether and when there should be a new referendum on independence.
So, given the verdict of the people of Scotland last night, the Scottish Government will next week publish the detailed democratic case for a transfer of power to enable a referendum to be put beyond legal challenge.
I have been clear that a referendum must be the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. This is not about asking Boris Johnson or any other Westminster politician for permission. It is an assertion of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future.
Given what I fear the Tory government has in store for Scotland, that right to choose our own future has never been more important.
So to the Prime Minister let me be clear. This is not simply a demand that I or the SNP are making.
It is the right of the people of Scotland – and you as the leader of a defeated party in Scotland have no right to stand in the way.
In an independent Scotland we will always get the governments we vote for.
We will have full control of the powers and levers needed to build a truly fair and more prosperous country.
We can take our place as an equal partner with our closest friends in the rest of the UK and across Europe.
The people of Scotland have spoken – it is time to decide our own future.