What an end to a politically turbulent year: a Tory Prime Minister forced to resign by her own party and now worryingly Boris Johnston as PM. Moreover, a General Election result that was the tale of two nations going in opposite directions with the SNP gaining 81% of the seat share in Scotland and the Tories only 56% across the UK.
Locally it was a big win for the SNP and I would like to congratulate my friend and colleague Alyn Smith on becoming the Member of Parliament for the Stirling Constituency. Alyn became our MP with a stunning with 51% of the vote. Alyn brings years of experience from the European Parliament, and he is already establishinghis place in the House of Commons as well as in his Constituency. I very much look forward to working with closely with him on behalf of local people and the communities we both represent.
While across Scotland the SNP also had a huge win, I recognise that people vote for parties for different reasons. For instance, I know that many people voted SNP because they wanted our Country to stay the European Union. Unfortunately, though Scotland will have to leave the EU, against her will, at the end of January.
The composition of the House of Commons means that Boris Johnson will take us out of the EU. However, he will do so without the expressed consent of the people of Scotland. Far from ending the political turbulence, we will now have to face months and months of political wrangling over a future Trade Deal. In addition, there is no guarantee of a Trade Deal finding agreement by the end 2020; this puts the very real risk of ‘No Deal’ firmly back on the table.
Of course, not everyone who voted SNP at the General Election are automatic supporters of Scotland becoming an independent nation. However, a great many doagree that any such decision must for the people of Scotland to take. It is a fundamental democratic principle that the decision on whether or not Scotland becomes Independent should rest with the people of Scotland.
The Tories in Scotland ran a campaign with only one message: No to IndyRef2. The outcome saw them lose heavily. People across Stirling and Scotland spoke loudly and clearly.
Scotland is not a region questioning its place in a larger unitary state; we are a Country in a voluntary union of nations. Our friends in the rest of the UK will always be our closest allies and neighbours. However, in line with the principle of self-determination people in Scotland have the right to determine whether the time has come for a new, better relationship, in which we can thrive in a genuine partnership of equals.
It is perfectly legitimate for the Tories to oppose independence but it is not legitimate for them to oppose the fundamental democratic right the people of Scotland to choose their own future.
This week also saw the Scottish Parliament pass a very important piece of legislation: the Referendums Bill. It provides the legal framework for the Scottish Government to hold future referendums in Scotland.
As the Convener of the Finance and Constitution Committee at Holyrood, some of the work that I have been involved with recently has been in scrutinising this Bill. I am pleased that this Bill will now become law, providing a gold standard for holding Referendums in Scotland.
And, with that, I would like to wish you and yours all the very best for the festive season – and a very Happy New Year.