The Tories equal partners claim has been completely demolished

If anyone was in any doubt about how the Tories view Scotland’s place in the UK, they need look no further than the Prime Minister’s speech to the Scottish Tory conference last week.

The arrogance emanating from the half-empty hall was palpable, and Theresa May’s complete dismissal of any kind of compromise over Brexit contained a clear diktat to Scotland from Westminster – it’s their way, or no way.
Long before she was Prime Minister, when she was campaigning to persuade Scotland to vote against independence, Theresa May used to claim that the four nations of the UK were ‘equal partners.’
We’re now just days away from the Prime Minister triggering Article 50, so this feels like an opportune moment to reflect how she has made that partnership work in practice.
Scotland of course didn’t want Brexit to happen – we voted by a 24-point margin to remain.
But the SNP Government has been willing to compromise with Westminster – to find a way of respecting the vote in Scotland as much as possible when the UK leaves.
We published proposals which would have seen Scotland leaving the EU, provided that the UK government explore a solution to keep Scotland in the single market.
The EU Single Market is around eight times bigger than the UK’s alone, so keeping close links with Europe – as well as trading within the UK – is important to our economy.
Securing a differential deal for Scotland is difficult, but perfectly feasible – and a whole host of experts on Europe backed us up.
Crucially, it requires the political will of Westminster to make it happen.
The Prime Minister has been going round offering special deals to everyone else – rightly, to Northern Ireland to protect its open border with the Republic, to the City of London to protect its vital financial services industries, and even to the Nissan car factory in Sunderland.
But for Scotland, the nation in which 62 per cent voted to Remain, they have offered not even a hint of a compromise.
We have been ignored on Brexit, and ignored on the single market. We’re being told that leaving whether we like it or not.
The next question is, will the four nations be equal partners after Brexit?
Well, substantial powers will come back from the EU when the UK leaves – and under the Scotland Act, powers relating to devolved areas like fisheries and farming should automatically come to the Scottish Parliament.
For the UK Government to block this would effectively be ripping up the two-decade old devolution settlement – and would amount to nothing short of a Westminster power grab.
When I raised this prospect a few weeks ago, I was accused of scaremongering.
But that is exactly the message now coming from Westminster.
Ask yourself this: has anything that the Tories have said or done since the 24th of June made you feel any more confident about the UK leaving the EU?
Increasingly people across Scotland are beginning to see that this Prime Minister does not have Scotland’s best interests at heart.
Instead, it feels more like she is only interested in appeasing the right wing of the Tory party.
Hard Brexit – at all costs.
Whatever happens next, the claim that the four nations of the UK are equal partners has been completely demolished.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.