The past week has demonstrated everything that is wrong with Westminster and its abysmal failure to act in Scotland’s interests.
Having wasted two-and-a-half years since the EU referendum, Theresa May put her Brexit deal to a vote on Tuesday and, as expected, it is was rejected – by a huge majority of 230, the worst defeat for any UK government in history.
While the size of the defeat was bigger than anyone imagined, the outcome was inevitable because of the UK Government’s stubborn refusal to seek consensus.
Almost a thousand days have passed since June 2016. From day one after the referendum, the Prime Minister should have been reaching out across the governments and nations of the UK in a genuine attempt to listen and secure a deal that could command wide support.
Instead, the Tory leader has acted with intransigence, refusing to engage meaningfully with the devolved governments, dismissing the concerns of opposition parties, and failing to listen to her own MPs, to the extent that almost 40 per cent of them voted to get rid of her last month.
With just two months left until the UK is set to crash out of the EU, dragging Scotland down with it, and threatening catastrophic damage to the country, you might think the Prime Minister would finally get the message and work with other parties to prevent a disastrous No Deal outcome before it is too late – but yet again she’s just not listening.
Instead of scrapping her ridiculous “red lines”, which got us into this mess in the first place, this lame duck PM is doubling down in denial – hoping that if she runs down the clock, MPs will be forced to vote for a rehash of the same damaging deal that has already been rejected. I met the Prime Minister on Wednesday night and my message was clear – it’s not going to happen.
SNP MPs stand ready to talk and find a way out of this mess but we will never vote for a deal that leaves people poorer and worse off. We will not vote for a deal that puts thousands of jobs on the line and forces local businesses to go bust.
That means the UK Government must rule out a No Deal Brexit, extend Article 50 to give more time to find a solution and put the decision in the hands of people by holding a second EU referendum, with the opportunity to remain on the ballot.
Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU – but however people voted, the outcome of the coming weeks will have an impact for decades. It is only right that, given what we now know, the people must have the final say.
A People’s Vote is also something the Labour Party must finally get behind too. At a time when the country is in desperate need of leadership, we have been lumbered with the worst UK Government and official opposition in living memory.
In a deceitful attempt to pretend to be everything to everyone, Labour has refused to say whether it is for or against Brexit, and is still making the preposterous claim that it can negotiate a deal that retains every single benefit of the EU, without being a member. It’s cloud cuckoo land and Labour knows it. It’s time it was straight with people.
Throughout these shambolic Brexit negotiations, Westminster has not just ignored Scotland’s interests but worked against them. Both Westminster establishment parties want to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will, which would destroy jobs and living standards.
The costs to Scotland of not being independent have never been clearer, and if Westminster cannot find a way out of the Brexit mess it has created, then Scotland must.
This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.