Time to send a clear message: Scotland will not be ignored

Next week, voters will have the chance to send a clear and unequivocal message to Theresa May – that Scotland will not be ignored any more.

The most important European elections in Scotland’s history will take place on May 23.

They will not just determine which parties represent Scottish interests in the European Parliament, they will also influence whether we can stay inside the European Union at all.

That’s why it’s absolutely vital that people across Scotland go to the polls and vote for the SNP.

It will send a strong message that Scotland has had enough of the chaos at Westminster, that we do not want Brexit and that we will not be dragged out of the EU against our will.

Scotland’s wishes have been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process and our interests have been sidelined.

Rather than trying to build consensus across the four nations and parliaments of the UK, Tory Prime Minister Theresa May has focused only on pandering to the fringe interests of the right-wing, extreme Brexiteers in her own party and to the DUP.

Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and, however you voted in that referendum, we simply cannot allow the likes of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage to have more of a say over Scotland’s future than the people who live and work here.

Next week, we have the opportunity to use these elections to demand a choice over our future and say loud and clear that Scotland will not put up with being sidelined any longer.

We know that behind closed doors at Westminster, the Tories and Labour are stitching up a backroom Brexit deal that would take Scotland out of the EU, terminate our membership of the world’s largest single market and end our vital freedom of movement rights.

The Westminster parties have shut Scotland out of these talks precisely because they know we could never agree to the damaging hard Brexit deal they are plotting, which would destroy thousands of Scottish jobs and cause lasting harm to living standards, public services and the economy.

Research over the weekend by Business For Scotland highlighted the extent of the damage a Tory-Labour Brexit deal could do – costing Scotland in the region of £5.9billion and resulting in the loss of 47,000 jobs.

In contrast to the Brexit parties, the SNP is offering hope and ambition at these elections.

We want to protect our membership of the EU and use it to create jobs, improve living standards, grow our economy and work in partnership with our European neighbours on climate change and the big issues we all face.

There is so much at stake in these elections – and it is vital that Scotland’s voice is heard.

Opinion polls show that the far right is gaining ground in England, with the very real danger that Farage’s party could win dozens of seats and push for an even worse form of Brexit.

In Scotland, we can reject the politics of hate – but only if enough people come out to vote.

The biggest risk we face is if the far right win because too many voters stayed at home.

Over the next week, I’ll be doing everything I can to encourage people across Scotland to use their vote and make our voice heard, so we cannot be ignored by Westminster any longer.

A vote for the SNP on May 23 is a vote to reject the shambles and chaos that Westminster has inflicted on us. It is a vote to stop Brexit and keep Scotland at the heart of Europe, where we belong.

This article originally appeared in the Daily Record.