Theresa May’s stage-managed trip to Bridge of Weir was typical of a Prime Minister who makes meaningless gestures but ignores Scotland’s interests entirely, writes Tom Arthur MSP.
The Prime Minister spent a grand total of three hours in Scotland yesterday.
She’s not even trying to sell her Brexit deal hard. That’s because she knows it’s such a hard sell. In fact, nobody is under any illusion that Theresa May will get her Brexit deal through the Commons on 11 December. It is a bad deal and – for very good reasons – it lacks support in parliament.
Her flying visit was stage-managed to the nth degree – a closed factory visit, no risk of encountering the general public and a handpicked media presence, with several journalists barred from the event for fear of tough questions being asked. The Bridge of Weir locals didn’t even know she was in town.
So why bother?
Well, it is so typical of this Prime Minister to make meaningless gestures to Scotland while ignoring our interests entirely. In fact, ignoring Scotland has become the hallmark of her approach to this country over the past two years.
Scotland, of course, voted overwhelmingly to Remain within the EU. We voted to maintain close ties with our European neighbours, the ability to trade freely, the freedom to live and work across the continent and to attract the talent we need to work in our communities, our universities and our health service.
There has been no attempt whatsoever to respect that outcome. We have been ignored at every turn.
But the SNP has been willing to compromise. We have been clear that we could accept remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union as the least worst option to protect Scotland’s interests – jobs, living standards and our economy.
Again, this perfectly sensible compromise has been ignored at every turn.
The Tories are now offering a completely false choice. Either we take the Prime Minister’s Bad Deal, which will make Scotland poorer, slice £9 billion off GDP equalling £1,600 per head of population, or we crash out of the EU with No Deal, which will similarly plunge the entire UK into chaos.
When neither of these options commands the support of parliament, when neither will leave the country better off, when both will damage the economy, impact jobs and harm our NHS, then surely it is high time to think again?
That is why the SNP will support any opportunity arising which allows us to respect the choice that Scotland made in 2016 and protects our people from the damage of Brexit. We will support whatever option can garner enough support to defeat this Tory Government – whether that is a renewed opportunity to Remain in the EU through a second referendum or a Norway-style deal which keeps us in the Single Market.
While the SNP is showing leadership amid the Brexit chaos, no wonder the Prime Minister is running feart and so keen to dodge questions. She’s the one responsible. Her party created the mess. It’s their mess to clean up.
To each and every question over the turmoil she’s overseeing, and the grave consequences for Scotland, she pivots to the matter of Scottish independence.
It is a puzzling tactic.
In 2014, Scotland was told that the only way to protect our future in Europe was to vote no to independence. That has now been exposed for the lie it always was.
The only way Scotland can be sure that we are never again subjected to the democratic travesty that is Brexit is to become an independent country.
We relish making that argument and gently suggest to the Prime Minister it ain’t her strong suit.
The more day-tripping Tory politicians ignore Scotland’s interests, ignore our right to make decisions for ourselves and fail to respect those decisions we make, the more support for the SNP and independence will continue to grow.
Tom Arthur is SNP MSP for Renfrewshire South and a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Constitution Committee