At a packed public meeting last night in Edinburgh, SNP MPs Mhairi Black and Ian Blackford laid out the clear choice now facing the people of Scotland – Brexit Britain or Scottish independence.
Speaking at Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church, the SNP Westminster Leader said the Brexit process has shown “the rising and unsustainable cost to Scotland of not being independent” – with the events of recent days underlining the threat Scotland faces.
Westminster chaos highlights the need for independence
Ian Blackford MP said: “Scotland faces a serious and growing threat from Westminster. Throughout the Brexit process we have been completely ignored – and the events of recent days have underlined the rising and unsustainable cost to Scotland of not being independent.
“Boris Johnson’s plan to shut down democracy and force through an extreme Brexit would be devastating for Scotland – with the potential to destroy 100,000 Scottish jobs and inflict lasting harm on living standards, public services and the economy.
“Scotland did not vote for Brexit but we are being dragged out of EU against our will on the hardest terms, which would leave the whole country poorer and worse off.
“It is now beyond doubt that Scotland will never be treated as an equal partner in the UK – and the only way to protect our interests is to become an equal and independent European country.”
If they can shut down the Westminster Parliament, who is to say they can’t shut down the Scottish Parliament?Ian Blackford MP
Challenging Westminster’s record on pensions
After their opening speeches, Mhairi Black and Ian Blackford took questions from the Edinburgh audience. The first question was about the safety of pensions, given that a Tory-leaning think tank recently recommended raising the state pension age to 75. Such changes would mean many Scots would simply never retire.
Criticising Westminster’s approach to pensions, Mhairi Black said: “We have the WASPI women, we have the lowest state pension in Europe, and we’re told we’re somehow meant to be grateful for that. The idea that pensions are safe in the Union just isn’t the reality. Put it this way, if anyone wanted to put the pension age up to 75 in an independent Scotland, we would actually have the power to vote them out.”
Imagine Scotland was already an independent country, and we were asked to join the union, what exactly would be the selling point?Mhairi Black MP
Inspiring people to vote for independence
One audience member asked how we could inspire more people to vote for independence given the uncertainty we’re already facing with Brexit.
Ian Blackford pointed to the “absolute failure of leadership” in Westminster during the Brexit referendum. He said, “Cast your minds back to 2014 when we had a whole White Paper laying out the case for independence. There was nothing like that on the Leave side in the EU referendum.”
“In terms of inspiring people, the thing that sticks with me most was the Yes shop we had in Portree in Skye. The most uplifting thing was the young people who would come in with so much energy, inspired by what was happening all around them.
“Next time, it’s not going to be about how people voted in 2014 – it’s going to be about the kind of country we want to live in now. We need to inspire people that we can find a way out of the system we’ve inherited from the United Kingdom.”
Mhairi Black said we could look at the examples of other independent countries in Europe. She said, “There are so many countries, particularly in the north of Europe, who are smaller than we are, or very similar to us. They are thriving, and the reason we don’t hear about them much is because they’re not causing any problems. That’s the kind of country I want to live in.”
The people of Scotland are sovereign. Sovereignty is ours, today, tomorrow and always. It is our right, it is your right, to be able to determine your own future.Ian Blackford MP
The sold-out public event was the sixth stop in the ‘Independence roadshow’ across Scotland. It followed sold-out events in Paisley, Fort William, Portree, Dingwall, and Ullapool, with further stops in Aberdeen, Perth, Dundee, Glasgow, Ayshire, Inverness and Dumfries planned for the coming weeks.
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