#SNP19 looks forward with optimism and passion

Over the coming days thousands of political activists, hundreds of journalists and a small army of media broadcasters from across the globe will descend on the Granite City for the SNP’s 85th annual national conference.

I’m always delighted to visit the North-east, but there’s a real buzz in and around Aberdeen at the moment that will make my time in the city extra special.

Large scale investment has injected a fresh sense of optimism and positivity into the area after a tough few years for local industries. From the new city by-pass that will help unlock around £6 billion in the local economy, to NHS Grampian’s new elective treatment centre, the Scottish Government is going the extra mile to deliver for the North-east.

And it’s clear to me that our £380 million investment in the City Region Deal is paying dividends with cash injections from private firms popping up across the region.

Aberdeen and the city’s surrounding region is one of Scotland’s economic powerhouses, and when industry in the North-east is thriving, all of Scotland benefits.

But the city’s – and the whole country’s – economic success is being put at risk with Brexit.

With the threat of a No-deal Brexit looming, potentially less than three weeks away, the UK Government has thrown the North East under the bus and is putting jobs, living standards and communities at risk – failing to secure international trade deals while ripping up the ones we already have.

The Tories have had three years to sort out the Brexit mess of their own making but it seems that, once again, jobs and businesses are well down their list of priorities.

Let’s remember – Scotland faces being dragged out of the EU, the single market and the customs union against our will, by a Tory Westminster government we didn’t vote for.

The EU may not be perfect – but being part of Europe is absolutely vital if we want industries here in the North-east to continue to prosper.

Take the local fishing industry for example. Our seafood is renowned across Europe, and here in the North-east the industry supports thousands jobs, and the sector as a whole is worth many millions to Scotland’s economy.

There are well over 4,000 EU citizens working in our fish processing industry and without access to the single market and brand protections offered by the EU, the sector will suffer.

Meanwhile, just this week we’ve been told that global brands like Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb, currently protected under EU law, will face export tariffs of up to 85% if we leave without a deal.

Worse still, some produce coming into the UK like cereals, eggs and pork will have no tariffs whatsoever putting our local farmers at a huge disadvantage and setting an uneven playing field for cheap foreign goods to flood the Scottish market.

For the sake of jobs, business and household incomes in the North-east – we can’t let this happen.

Westminster has stopped working and I know that people just want to see an end to this seemingly never-ending Brexit melodrama.

That’s why the SNP is calling on Labour and the Lib Dems to put their narrow party politics to one side, and work with us to vote Boris Johnson out of office.

Cross-party action is now the only way we can take a No-deal Brexit off the table and get rid of this failed UK Parliament with a general election.

We simply can’t afford to leave Scotland’s future in the hands of Boris Johnson and his extreme Brexiteer cronies. It’s time for MPs at Westminster to grow up and put people’s jobs across the country before party politics.

The SNP will use this conference to look forward with optimism and passion – continuing to build our case for a brighter, more prosperous Scotland with independence.