Leader comment: Warm new year words but no Brexit resolution

Nicola Sturgeon says 2019 won't just be about Brexit.
Nicola Sturgeon says 2019 won't just be about Brexit.
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IT is customary every Hogmanay for political leaders to offer up warm words about months ahead and this year is no exception.

Statements from across the political spectrum have a distinctly look-on-the-bright-side flavour.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says that 2019 will not be solely about Brexit, insisting that the Scottish Government will work to make ours a “greener, fairer, and more prosperous country”, while Jackson Carlaw - stepping up as acting leader of the Scottish Conservatives while Ruth Davidson is on maternity leave - says there are grounds for optimism as the UK heads towards departure from the EU.

Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard says his party will fight to enact real, positive change in people’s lives, and Scottish Greens chief Patrick Harvie commits his party to offering a “positive vision of a sustainable future and a fairer, more equal society”.

But despite the First Minister’s insistence that Brexit will not be the only big issue facing Scotland and the wider UK, it is difficult to see how this will not be so.

The ramifications of the UK’s decision to leave the EU will be felt in every part of our public life. From frustrating new restrictions on movement to the loss of European funding for cutting edge scientific research. the effects of Brexit will impact - in many instances, painfully directly - on all of us.

As 2018 draws to a close, nobody can be in any doubt that departure from the EU is a more complex business than Leave campaigners would have had us believe. And there is nothing to suggest things will get any easier in the weeks to come.

At no time in living memory has there been a greater need for politicians of differing ideologies to come together, to pragmatically try to find some consensus. Unfortunately, both the UK Government and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party are internally split over Brexit. If these parties cannot agree a single line on this issue, it’s hard to see how they will be able to reach out to others.

When MPs return to Westminster after their festive break next week, their focus should be on finding a workable agreement on Brexit. The prospect of a damaging No-Deal departure from the EU looms and this should focus minds.

We are bound to say, however, that the chances of such co-operation taking place look vanishingly slender.

As we step into 2019, our politics has never looked more fractured.