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The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union finished his speech yesterday by saying:
“For many years, there has been a creeping sense in the country…that politicians say one thing and then do another.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 620, c. 823-4.]
I am not sure which country he was talking about, because the UK is, of course, a Union of more than one country. What I can tell him, however, is that, for the country of Scotland, the sense that politicians sometimes say one thing and do another is more than a creeping sense, it is a well-founded and widespread concern, and it relates in particular to the Conservative party, its Prime Minister and its leader in Scotland.
Tonight we shall vote on an SNP amendment, and I welcome the support from other Members for that amendment. The amendment is, in part, designed to ensure that the Conservative party delivers on promises made by politicians to the people of Scotland during the 2014 independence referendum—promises made by Ruth Davidson, such as the idea that voting to remain in the United Kingdom was a guarantee of our EU citizenship; and promises made that Scotland is an equal partner in the Union.
Listening to yesterday’s debate, one could be forgiven for thinking that Scotland is seen as an unwelcome distraction from the main event. The message seems to be, “Get back in your box, and know your place”. Gone are the lovebombs, which have been replaced with instructions to “Sit down, shut up and put up with it”.
The EU referendum did not take place in a void in Scotland, separated from what has gone before. In 2014, the question of Scotland’s future membership of the European Union was central to the independence referendum. The SNP, and the wider “yes” campaign, warned that a “no” vote would be a threat to Scotland’s ancient trade links, about which my right hon. Friend Alex Salmond spoke so eloquently earlier. We said that voting to remain in the United Kingdom was a threat to our membership of Europe because of Tory Euroscepticism.