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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of John Nicolson John Nicolson Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 5:41 pm, 1st February 2017

I am often asked by English Members why it is that I support pulling Scotland out of the UK but keeping it in the European Union. It is a good question, because Scotland is no stranger to the idea of sacrificing a degree of independence for interdependence. Indeed, that is the argument that underpins Unionism. When Scotland surrendered its national Parliament in 1707, it was to join a prototype European Union: the United Kingdom. Two countries which had been at war for centuries pooled sovereignty, allowed the free movement of people and created a common trading area, locking our economies together with the aim of ending conflict. The price was complete Scottish independence.

Across the North sea, there is a very similar country: Denmark. Both countries have populations of about 6 million. They are largely urban, but with significant rural populations. Both have large coastlines. However, when Denmark chose to sacrifice some sovereignty upon joining the EU, it retained much that we have lost, or will soon lose, in the UK. Denmark finds itself today in the single market and a member of the customs union, and it is able to enjoy all the benefits they bring. Denmark also remains in control of its own defence policy, its own foreign policy and its own fiscal policy. There, in a nutshell, is the difference. Within the UK, Scotland controls none of those.