Tory Brexiteers are driving Scotland towards independence – Keith Brown

If the UK descends into the chaos of an extreme Brexit, more and more people in Scotland will conclude that independence is the best way forward, writes Keith Brown MSP.

Alyn Smith, Christian Allard and Aileen McLeod, Scotland's three new SNP MEPs, show their colours (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Alyn Smith, Christian Allard and Aileen McLeod, Scotland's three new SNP MEPs, show their colours (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Few people expected this election would even happen. But what an opportunity it became.

The SNP asked the people of Scotland to use their vote to send a message – and to say that Scotland is not for Brexit. They did that with gusto.

The numbers are spectacular. The SNP’s best-ever European result. The highest vote share of any party in Western Europe. The largest margin of victory for any party in a European election.

I set out the scale of the SNP’s success not out of triumphalism, but to make a point.

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The Tories and Labour both went into the election pledging to push ahead with Brexit – but when it comes to the details have been clear as mud.

Neither party can say clearly what they want from leaving the EU. Both are hopelessly divided.

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It’s no hyperbole to say that both Labour and the Tories have faced an historic and humiliating defeat – both in Scotland, and across the whole of the UK.

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And now we face the prospect of Tory leadership candidates trying to out-Farage each other in order to win the keys to Downing Street.

The likes of Boris Johnson will no doubt use the success of the Brexit Party as a license to push for the hardest of hard Brexits.

In Scotland, that would rightly be seen as an economic catastrophe and a democratic outrage.

In 2016, we said we wanted to Remain. On Thursday, we made clear that we still meant it.

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Brexit has become all-consuming in Westminster but, despite asking MPs time and time again, we are further away than ever from agreeing a deal.

Any new Tory leader should go back to the people and seek a fresh mandate – and, unlike our opponents, the SNP would relish the prospect of a new General Election.

But it’s clear that only a second EU referendum, with Remain on the ballot, can break the logjam.

If the only future Westminster can offer is the chaos of an extreme Brexit, more and more people will come to the conclusion that Scotland’s future is best served as an independent country. An independent future that we are determined the people of Scotland will have the opportunity to vote for.

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Keith Brown is the SNP's depute leader and MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane