Scotland's lockdown exit strategy is not narrow nationalism and only pig-headed unionists would object – Kenny MacAskill

The idea Scotland and England must act in unison as the lockdown’s restrictions are eased is absurd, writes Kenny MacAskill.

Nicola Sturgeon is not displaying narrow nationalism by pursuing a Scottish exit strategy from the lockdown, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: Scottish Government)
Nicola Sturgeon is not displaying narrow nationalism by pursuing a Scottish exit strategy from the lockdown, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: Scottish Government)

Coming out of lockdown isn’t going to be easy. As the coronavirus is unprecedented, there’s no route map for the way out.

Governments on both sides of the border are going to have to act cautiously, based on the best evidence before them.

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It’s going to have to come in stages and it’s perfectly possible that they’ll need to roll back fast from some judgments that prove to be problematic, if not even dangerous.

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But the suggestion that Scotland and England must march forth entirely in unison is absurd. Most likely much will be replicated across both jurisdictions.

But the decision must be based on what’s best and that may differ. It’s perfectly possible that some things may be suitable south of the Border but not here – just as what works in the Highlands and Islands may not be practical in the Central Belt or even what’s possible in rural Cumbria isn’t in central London.

There’s some unity in what’s happening over the lockdown across the European Union, but still significant differences in areas.

That applies not just between Germany and the Netherlands but even within German Lander and amongst Italian states. So those insisting that it must be a pan-UK process are flying in the face of the albeit slightly differing scientific and medical situations, never mind significantly different social and economic circumstances that exist in the UK.

It’s not narrow nationalism to seek flexibility, but it’s certainly pig-headed unionism to demand uniformity.

Kenny MacAskill is the SNP MP for East Lothian

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