Nicola Sturgeon: Ashworth discusses ‘silly mistake’ by SNP leader
The First Minister made the plea in a desperate message sent to newspapers across Europe. She said she hoped Scotland could “join you again soon as an equal partner as we face the opportunities and challenges of the future together”, despite the Uk beginning 2021 as an independent nation.
Ms Sturgeon also reiterated the SNP’s call for an independent Scotland to join the EU.
It comes as Scotland’s trading and travel relationships with EU countries will now be governed by the trade agreement announced by the UK Government on Christmas Eve.
In a column sent to various publications including Politico, Ms Sturgeon said: “For too long, successive UK governments have taken Scotland in the wrong direction, culminating in Brexit and the introduction of legislation that had threatened to break international law, and which still undermines the Scottish parliament. It’s no wonder so many people in Scotland have had enough.
“We are committed to a legal, constitutional route to becoming an independent state.”
Ms Sturgeon stressed after nearly 50 years of membership, Scotland had benefited “enormously” from the single market’s four freedoms, including freedom of movement.
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A Scottish Government report released last month predicted Scottish GDP would be 6.1 percent lower by 2030 compared to remaining a member of the EU.
Ms Sturgeon said Scotland was “unique like all nations”, adding: “The same can be said of our constitutional circumstances.
She added: “The UK is a voluntary union of countries, in which Scotland has its own distinct legal and education system, and a government and parliament in charge of a range of domestic affairs, such as health and the environment, but not currently as Brexit has so clearly exposed issues such as international and European affairs.
Scotland’s Constitution Secretary Mike Russell also said the separate Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland and Gibraltar showed independence was the “only alternative”.
This week a draft agreement had been reached between the UK and Spain to keep the border with the Rock open on January 1st and beyond.
While Scotland has the same trade arrangements with the EU as England and Wales, there is a separate Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid a hard border with the Republic.
Additionally, on December 31st it was announced that Gibraltar would be covered by a separate treaty.
In December 2016, the Scottish Government proposed keeping Scotland in the single market post-Brexit.
Mr Russell tweeted: “The NI & Gibraltar deals make clear that the 12/16 @ScotGov proposals could have produced a Scottish deal but were never pursued in EU negotiations by UK.
“Consequently the UK has itself created the circumstances in which independence is the only alternative for Scotland.”
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However, the Scottish Conservatives accused Ms Sturgeon and the SNP of driving a “wedge” in the UK.
A spokesperson said: “The SNP’s whole agenda is about separatism and driving a big wedge down the middle of our country and it is ludicrous for the First Minister to suggest otherwise.
“Their obsession with breaking Scotland away from the United Kingdom always comes ahead of everyday issues facing Scots in areas like health and education, and this includes tackling the pandemic.
“The SNP’s divisive agenda was clear for all to see when they voted for a No Deal Brexit, and against the Government’s deal.
“This is something they said they would never do, but then did, just so they could oppose the UK Government.”
The Conservatives also accused the SNP of hypocrisy for refusing to back the Prime Minister’s deal when it had opposed a no-deal Brexit.
They claimed the Scottish Government had been spreading “propaganda” about the agreement on its official channels.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he had made a complaint to civil service chiefs seeking an apology for a “bad deal for Scotland” video shared on social media.
Current civil service guidelines state officials must not “act in a way that is determined by party political considerations, or use official resources for party political purposes”.
Mr Ross said: “This video is a work of shameless propaganda and it’s incredible that a politically neutral civil service would think it is in any way appropriate.
“For taxpayers to be bankrolling a work of one-sided Nationalist distortion is not on.
“The government is supposed to represent everyone in Scotland.”
In response, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have received the letter and will respond in due course.”
It comes as Scottish political parties expect the Tories united to refuse to give legislative consent for the Prime Minister’s Brexit agreement.
MSPs voted by 92 to 30 in the Scottish Parliament to say the deal would “cause severe damage to Scotland’s environmental, economic and social interests”, following a debate on Wednesday.
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