Take Scotland’s future out of Boris Johnson’s hands

All elections are important, but the General Election that will take place on December 12 is probably the most important of our lifetimes.

It’s not just about choosing your local MP – vital though that is. Nor is it just about who will run the UK Government for the next five years. Even more than that, this election will shape the future of our country for generations to come.

For Scotland in particular, the election is hugely significant. It will do much determine who we are as a nation and, fundamentally, who has the right to decide our future.

The Tories’ number one pledge in this election is to take Scotland out of the EU against our will. And they seem to be saying to Scotland that no matter how we vote, they will ignore it.

The SNP believes that people who live here in Scotland – whether they support independence or oppose it – should be in charge of the decisions that shape our future.

That is why we propose a second independence referendum – and we have a cast iron mandate for that from our 2016 Scottish Parliament manifesto pledge.

At this election, we are asking people in Scotland to vote SNP to get rid of Boris Johnson, escape the mess of Brexit and put Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands.

So if the SNP wins this election, the question must be, what would give Boris Johnson – or any other Westminster politician for that matter – the right to block the democratic wishes of the Scottish people?

It is an undemocratic and ultimately unsustainable position and the more people who vote SNP at this election, the quicker it will crumble. Boris Johnson and Westminster must never be allowed a veto over Scotland’s right to choose our own future and this election is an opportunity to send that message loud and clear.

And while it’s not surprising that the Tories show contempt for Scottish democracy, the fact is that the Liberal Democrats have a similar undemocratic position. They are content for Westminster to control Scotland’s future. Indeed, whilst they claim to have moved on from the days of propping up the Tories in government, it seems clear that old habits die hard.

And as for Labour, Jeremy Corbyn still refuses to say whether he backs Leave or Remain and his campaign includes a pledge to renegotiate a deal to leave the EU – in other words, Labour too is planning to impose Brexit on Scotland.

So voters have a clear and vital choice at this election and only the SNP is putting Scotland’s interests first.

Over the next few weeks, the Tories should end the charade and be honest with people. If the UK leaves the EU on January 31, that will not “get Brexit done”, despite Boris Johnson’s claims. Indeed, if his deal goes through, the Brexit chaos will only just be starting.

It will open the door, not to opportunities, but to years of fraught negotiations about the UK’s future relationship with the EU. And the fact is that no future trade deal will be as good as what we have right now – full membership of the single market and customs union.

If the UK leaves the EU, trade discussions with other countries will also get under way in earnest.

Boris Johnson has been clear about his desire for a post-Brexit trade deal with Donald Trump – and we must be clear about the threat that poses to vital services such as our NHS.

Whilst health policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, trade deals are not. So as things stand, we won’t be able to stop Westminster signing away access to the NHS in a trade deal.

However the SNP is determined to do all we can to stop the Tories – or anyone else – from entering into a deal which could push up the prices of medication or open up the NHS to privatisation.

It’s why one of the SNP’s pledges during this campaign is to bring forward an NHS Protection Bill. The purpose of this Bill will be to protect the NHS across the whole of the UK from being dragged into or used as a bargaining chip in trade deals.

The Bill would also require the explicit approval of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies before any deal could be agreed, giving the devolved nations a crucial say in the development of deals.

I hope all parties will come together to commit to backing this Bill, and send a strong message to the Tories – our NHS is not for sale at any price.

There’s no doubt that people up and down the country are scunnered by the Brexit mess. They are sick of the chaos the Tories have inflicted upon the country, aided by the ineptitude and lack of leadership by Labour. In Scotland we have another choice, and it’s a clear one.

A vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit and to take Scotland’s future out of the hands of Boris Johnson and put it firmly into the hands of the people of Scotland.

This article originally appeared in the Evening Times.