Tory abstention on Holyrood EU vote is consistent with their whole approach - silence.


The EU referendum was designed to heal a rift in the Conservative party that has beset the party for decades. What it has delivered is a divided nation, economic turmoil and uncertainty over our place in the world.

What you would hope for at times like this is politicians working together to secure the best deal for Scotland.  What we have seen is Labour infighting that has rendered them incapable of making a positive contribution to protecting our EU ties. SNP moves towards a second independence referendum risk having the same effect. Shamefully, the Scottish Tories have sat on their hands as questions over what Brexit means have piled up.

The Conservatives inflicted this referendum on Scotland and the UK. Tories were the ones who embellished and exaggerated the case for Brexit.  And if Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom are the guilty parties, Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives are accessories to the crime.

After the Brexit vote, the Tories were the only party at the Scottish Parliament not to back a motion which called on the Scottish Government to do everything possible to find a solution that would protect Scotland’s place in the EU.

Their abstention on that vote is consistent with their whole approach. Silence. Some Tories say Brexit means Brexit but they are not willing or able to tell us what that means. A slogan that can fit easily onto a t shirt is no substitute for a clear, thought out position. We need to know what they think Brexit would look like.

Their abstention on that vote is consistent with their whole approach.

It is perhaps natural that the attention of Tory MSPs was elsewhere during the abbreviated leadership contest that installed Theresa May in Downing St. But weeks after her new government was appointed, senior Scottish Tories are yet to break their silence over what sort of relationship they believe Scotland and the UK should maintain with the EU and what sort of deal we should negotiate.

Commenting on the First Minister’s recent speech on the EU, Murdo Fraser said that we should be working to make the best of this situation. There is no evidence that Scottish Tory HQ has been a hive of activity in this respect.

I say to Ruth Davidson that this is not a time to hide. She needs to set out her stall on the EU now. People deserve to know.  Keeping quiet might be the easy way out. But it is not good enough.

The Liberal Democrats have always been an internationalist, outward looking party which has made the case for working closely with our friends and neighbours in Europe.  We remaining committed to the policy of the UK in the EU.  As voters were denied the facts on Brexit in the referendum the terms of Brexit must be put to the people in a second referendum vote. This is consistent with the motion we passed at the Scottish Parliament after the EU vote and we will work in good faith with other parties to deliver for Scotland.

The legacy of the referendum is economic turbulence, an increase in racist attacks and the ludicrous spectacle of Boris Johnson as the UK’s top diplomat. My message to Ruth Davidson and her colleagues is clear. You Brexit, you fix it. You cannot ignore the chaos that your party played such a significant role in creating.

My message to Ruth Davidson is clear. You Brexit, you fix it.

With the consequences of the vote to leave starting to become clear, silence is simply not good enough.

The warnings from the Governor of the Bank of England over the economic consequences of a Leave vote have proved accurate. Companies have already indicated that they will move their business to protect their access to the EU market, and take thousands of jobs with them.

If there was ever a time for politicians to put party management to one side and work for the people of Scotland it is now. I have already told the First Minister as much. The same applies to Ruth Davidson too. 


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