Expert urges SNP to speak out and demand a halt to Brexit

Scotland voted to Remain in the EU by a large margin. Picture: Getty.
Scotland voted to Remain in the EU by a large margin. Picture: Getty.
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A reluctance to call for a halt to Brexit has created a “huge hole” at the heart of Scottish politics, an EU expert has warned.

Dr Kirsty Hughes, director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, questioned who was now speaking for the 62% of Scots who voted to remain in the European Union.

She said a lack of political support for a rethink on the vote itself had left a “democratic gap” which might only be filled when the full consequences of crashing out of the bloc without a Brexit deal became apparent.

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Speaking during a Brexit debate at the Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics, she said: “There is this huge hole at the heart of the UK and I think even at the heart of Scottish politics.

“If you look at what the Scottish Government and SNP are doing, they are working very well with the Welsh Government on the Withdrawal Bill and what they call the power grab, and edging towards a compromise, or not.

“They still have a policy of independence in the EU, they want a compromise - which I don’t think we’re remotely going to see - of the UK staying in the customs union and the single market.

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“They are very reluctant to say the UK should think again. They’re very reluctant to say ‘this is so crazy’ - a car crash Nicola Sturgeon has called it - ‘that we should talk about halting it now’.

“She’s reluctant, although she’s talked in recent weeks about possibly edging towards supporting a second EU referendum.

“So, I think although Scotland is the sane bit of UK politics at the moment, it’s kind of normal in a way that English politics isn’t, which has driven Brexit, I think there’s definitely a democratic gap.”

Dr Hughes added: “When I say I think there’s more likely to be a deal than no deal, I’m not sure that is a good thing.

“A deal with a Canada-style Brexit is going to be extremely damaging and probably politically it’s quite hard at the moment, given Labour’s position, to see how you would stop Brexit.

“Actually, the complete political and economic crisis we would get as we plunge convincingly towards no deal is probably our best chance of actually forcing Labour to a shift, forcing the SNP to speak out and turning this around.”