Nicola Sturgeon’s EU manifesto launch address

Welcome to the launch of the SNP manifesto for the European Parliament election.

We’re meeting here today in the city of Glasgow where in the 2016 referendum, 67 per cent of people voted to remain in the EU.

In fact, there were clear majorities for remain in every city in Scotland and in every council area.

The result could not have been clearer.

The overwhelming majority of people in Scotland did not, and do not, want to leave the European Union.

But just as the result in Scotland could not have been clearer the reaction of Theresa May and the Tories could not have been more predictable.

Instead of listening to people in Scotland, they chose to ignore Scotland.

Instead of looking for compromise they decided, not just to drag Scotland out of the EU, but to pursue a hard Brexit – and all to appease the right-wing of the Conservative Party. 

And make no mistake, that is still their intention and still their policy today.

But next Thursday we have the opportunity to send a different message, and make Scotland’s voice heard.

There is now a real chance to keep Scotland in the European Union. 

On May the 23rd people in this city and across Scotland can send Theresa May, or whoever comes after her, a strong, resolute message:

Stop Brexit.

And let’s keep Scotland at the heart of Europe.

That message needs to be heard loud and clear in Downing Street and across Westminster.

As independent research has shown, the best way to send that message in Scotland is to vote SNP.

The SNP platform at this election is this:

– We will work with others across the UK to give people a final say.

– Any Brexit deal agreed by Westminster must be put to the people with remain on the ballot paper.

– If No Deal is the only alternative, Article 50 must be revoked.

– And Scotland must have the choice of becoming an independent, European nation. 

In other words, if you want to stop Brexit – vote SNP.

If you want Scotland’s voice to be heard – vote SNP.

Of course, this is an election the Tories never wanted, and they are desperately trying to pretend is not happening.

They wanted Scotland to be out of the EU by now.

They’ve ignored the overwhelming vote in Scotland to remain.

They’ve dismissed all attempts at compromise from the Scottish Government.

And they’ve disregarded – time and again – the views of the Scottish Parliament.

It’s not just the Tories – Jeremy Corbyn has spent weeks in pointless discussions with Theresa May that just this morning he has announced he is pulling out of.

Jeremy Corbyn has made clear that his preference, just like the Tories, is to take the UK and Scotland out of the EU.

That outcome will, according to him “deliver on the result of the referendum”.

No, it will not.

Taking Scotland out of the EU against our will does not deliver on the result of the referendum.

For people in Scotland, pressing ahead with Brexit doesn’t deliver on the referendum  – it overturns the result of the referendum. 

And Brexit does something else: it gives the lie to the notion that Labour or the Tories see the United Kingdom as a partnership of equal nations.

For them, the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament must always trump the sovereignty of the people of Scotland.

The SNP takes a very different view.

As the Claim of Right says, we believe it is the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of Government best suited to their needs.

Never in recent history has it been more important to assert that right.

Senior Tories are now openly calling for an electoral pact at the next Westminster election with Nigel Farage.

Even a few months ago the idea of a Boris Johnson premiership, supported by Nigel Farage, would have been dismissed as a joke.

It is no longer funny.

It is a deadly serious possibility and for Scotland it would be a nightmare.

It demonstrates why we must – absolutely must – have all of our options open at this critical time.

The future of our country is at stake.

People in Scotland deserve the right to decide whether Scotland should become an independent member of the EU.  

But whatever people’s views on independence, or whether indeed people voted Remain or Leave in 2016, one thing is clear and beyond doubt: Westminster is failing all of us.

On that I suspect almost everyone in Scotland would agree.

So we have the opportunity to send a message to the Tories and to the other Westminster parties that the Brexit chaos has to stop.  

The fact is Westminster politics is in a pretty dark place right now.

That places an obligation on the SNP.

Our obligation is to provide a beacon of light and hope.

And so this SNP manifesto sets out a positive, progressive, European future for Scotland.

It makes clear our determination to stay in the EU.

It sets out how we will stand up for Scotland in Europe.

And be champions of the ideals and values that underpin the European Union.

We should never forget, after all, that the EU, in its earlier forms, was founded when the memories of the Second World War were still fresh. It is at heart a peace project. 

That’s one of the reasons the EU has supported Ireland so strongly in its commitment to uphold the Good Friday Agreement.

EU membership strengthens the rights and extends influence of its member states.

It brings independent countries together to tackle issues that cannot be addressed by any one nation acting alone.

There is no bigger issue today than climate change.

Just as the Scottish Government is taking action here at home, this manifesto makes clear that SNP MEPs will argue for a European-wide Green New Deal that recognises the scale of the climate emergency we face.

They will  press the EU to increase the scale of its ambition to tackle that emergency and for all EU nations to step up to the task.

EU funds for industry, regeneration and job creation must be targeted at lowering emissions and creating new green jobs.

And we will press for the development of the internal energy market to secure a better deal for consumers and boost renewable energy.

Scotland has enormous potential in this area.

Renewable energy here reached record levels in 2018, providing the equivalent of 75 per cent of gross electricity consumption.

Groundbreaking renewable energy projects in Scotland, such as the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre and tidal power project Meygen, have been made possible with the help of EU funding.

EU membership means we can all work together to raise standards and tackle climate change.

EU membership also means people in Scotland have the opportunity to live and study freely in Europe; just as our fellow EU citizens are free to come to Scotland to make a contribution here.

In this manifesto you will see strong and unequivocal support for free movement.

It is good for Scotland and it is good for Europe.

The SNP celebrates and values all those who choose to make Scotland their home.

And SNP MEPs will take that welcoming message to the heart of Europe.

Membership of the EU also boosts jobs.

It means being part of a Single Market of 500 million people, eight times the size of the UK market.

The Single Market is still to be completed and doing so offers huge opportunities for services and the digital economy – areas of real strength for Scotland.

SNP MEPs will make Scotland’s voice heard when EU trade deals are negotiated.

And they will campaign with colleagues in Holyrood and Westminster to give the Scottish Parliament a real say in promoting and protecting Scotland’s interests.

Our MEPs will continue to fight for Scotland’s fishing communities.

The SNP will push, as we always have done, for an end to the CFP in its current form – for a fundamental shift from a one size fits all policy towards one that suits different fleets and geography.

As an independent country Scotland will have its own seat at the table in the annual negotiations.

And at all times and in all circumstances we will advance Scotland’s interests. 

This is why we need SNP MEPs.

For example, at present we get just 2% of funding available through the Maritime Fisheries Fund despite having 9% of Europe’s waters.  The Tories happily accept that. The SNP will not.

We will continue to make the case for fair funding for our fishing communities. 

In farming, Scotland currently receives around £580 million each year through the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

This money provides a lifeline for many farmers and is vital for our rural economy, but the UK Government has offered no guarantee that this funding will continue after 2020 if we leave the European Union.

And we know from experience that UK Governments will short-change Scotland’s farmers if they get the chance.

So our MEPs will work to ensure that as the CAP is reformed over the next five years it will work in Scotland’s interests.

As we look ahead to the election next Thursday, let me reflect finally on Scotland’s place in Europe and Europe’s place in Scotland.

Like many countries, most people in Scotland are comfortable with multiple identities – Scottish, British, European, Asian and many others. 

For the SNP, this diversity is not a weakness – it is a source of great strength.

We do not decry it, we celebrate it.

Demonstrating our commitment to being a welcoming nation is a core part of the SNP’s values.

We champion internationalism.

We believe in co-operation, respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.

These are the core values of the EU.

I believe it is right that Scotland should play our full part in promoting those values for the common good.

And it is more important than ever that we do so now as these values come under attack from the forces of intolerance and extremism. 

So it is not just the economic benefits of EU membership that are important – although they are very substantial.

It is also the spirit of solidarity and co-operation among equal, independent nations.

At this election we can send the powerful message that Scotland is for Europe.

We can stand up for Scotland’s right to be heard.

And we can proclaim our determination to remain a European nation. 

So the message is simple, clear and unequivocal.

On May the 23rd vote SNP to stop Brexit.

Vote SNP to make Scotland’s voice heard.