Scotland should not have to pay the price of a failing Brexit

Almost three years on from Brexit, blatantly imposed on Scotland by the Tories and their Labour accomplices at Westminster, the economic damage of it gets starker by the day.

The immense damage of Brexit has been felt by businesses, communities and individuals across Scotland, only exacerbating the pain caused by almost 13 years of Tory austerity.

Many small and medium sized businesses are struggling under the pile of red tape and bureaucracy associated with the new customs procedures resulting from Brexit.

Trading with the EU has been made more difficult, with additional costs and delays for companies that rely on just-in-time supply chains.

In the first 15 months following the Tory Brexit deal, UK exports to the EU fell by an average of 22.9%, according to research by Aston University.

The UK’s growth is the worst in the G20 apart from heavily-sanctioned Russia, and this Brexit-fuelled recession is depriving the government of billions in tax revenues.

And to make things worse, while the UK experiences the worst cost-of-living crisis in decades, Brexit adds another layer of pain on the most vulnerable people in our society.

Inflation and recession are being felt more deeply in the UK than in elsewhere in Europe, with recent research showing food bills in the UK increased by an average of £210 solely due to Brexit.

Of course, Scotland never voted for any of this – but we’re being forced to pay a heavy price by a Westminster system that is completely oblivious to Scotland’s interests or democratic will.

And you really don’t have to look far to understand the utter economic calamity of leaving the single market.

Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK still in the single market – is recording a rise in exports to Ireland by 23%, and exports to other EU countries are up by 18%.

The SNP repeatedly called for Scotland to have a similar trading arrangement to Northern Ireland, to cushion some of the impact of being dragged out of the single market. However, as all other Scottish Government compromise proposals, these requests were completely ignored and dismissed by Westminster.

Northern Ireland’s booming trade figures lay bare the costs that Scotland faces for being removed from the world’s biggest single market against our will.

It’s a stark illustration of the contempt Westminster has for Scottish businesses and livelihoods.

Amid the clear evidence, Westminster expects Scotland to keep quiet and accept we will pay an ever-increasing price for a disastrous Brexit we didn’t vote for – but which is now equally backed by Labour as well as the Tories.

The UK economy is fundamentally on the wrong path and quite simply, there’s no real alternative on offer within the current system.

That’s why more and more people across Scotland know that we can do better.

Scottish independence would allow us to escape the damage of Brexit, and attract investment and talent from across the EU to boost our economy.

Scotland has a well-educated workforce, a thriving tech and innovation sector, and an abundance of renewable energy resources which are key to meeting our ambitious Net Zero targets.

Countries similar in size to Scotland, like our neighbours Ireland or Denmark, are thriving and surpassing the UK on every measure – whether it’s growth, productivity, income equality or happiness rankings.

The fact that these independent states in the EU are doing so much better simply illustrates the key point that independence is normal.

The choice before us is simple – a greener, wealthier and fairer economy as an independent nation within the European Union, or a sluggish, stagnating economy in Brexit Britain.

However hard Westminster tries to deny our basic democratic right to make that choice, I know that with enough determination and hard work, that better future is ours to win.