First Minister is risking the pro-EU consensus

At the Turriff show today I met plenty of farmers who are worried about what the Brexit vote means for them. So far we have seen little in the way of reassurance or detail from the UK or Scottish governments. That needs to change. We need to see a focus on finding solutions.

The First Minister reached out to other parties to build a consensus and a joint effort following the result of the EU referendum. She put party divisions on other issues to one side so that the parliament could speak loudly and clearly.

Yet now she risks wrecking that consensus.

The First Minister is heading for an indyref when she promised she would look for other ways forward.

In that parliamentary debate she made it clear “this is not about independence” and she was “emphatically not” in that position on 28th June but since then she has talked about little else. Her Westminster leader says it is round the corner, her predecessor and shadow foreign secretary says it will happen in two years’ time. Her supporters are even touching up the peeling Yes stickers on the vandalised road signs of Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon is betraying all those who took her at her word when she said the vote in parliament was not about independence.

Liberal Democrats campaigned for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom and made a clear election commitment that we will be against independence.

Last week her former media spokesperson let the cat out of the bag. Campbell Gunn said it was “up to the unionist parties” to “come up with something”. This is the opposite of what was promised by the First Minister. It makes it look like the group of experts brought together in a Standing Council under Anton Muscatelli are wasting their time if senior SNP insiders don’t think they will come up with anything.

The five tests set out by the First Minister are simply not good enough. We need hard proposals if we are to make progress towards a solution.

I don’t expect her to give up on independence but if she wants to carry a broad consensus in Scotland then she will need to change her approach. Farmers are just one of the groups who have huge concerns over what the EU referendum means for them. They need to see their government working actively to look at how we can protect jobs and maintain our relationship with Europe, not moves towards a second indyref.

The First Minister is at risk of breaking her mandate from the Scottish Parliament to look at all options. She is risking the accusation that she is trying to fool us with talk of other options when the clear trajectory is her party’s dream of another independence referendum.

She needs to focus on the work of the Muscatelli group in order to build the trust that she is serious about a solution that works.

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