Scotland’s Foreign Policy Footprint

Part of Delegated Legislation (Committees) – in the House of Commons at 8:06 pm on 3rd December 2018.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) 8:06 pm, 3rd December 2018

I thank my hon. Friend for his historical point.

As I have said, I do want to look to the future to our ambitions and opportunities. Let me turn to our education sector. Today, we see thousands of students, staff members and renowned academics from across the world come to Scotland. It would be remiss of me not to mention the very fine and much-missed Sir Neil MacCormick, the contribution that he made to international constitutional law and the reverence with which he is still held in many European countries—and badly missed he is too.

The House will be unsurprised to learn that I am going to mention the University of St Andrews, which today hosted the head of MI6, Alex Younger, who studied at the university and chose it as the location at which to make a speech. Although he is a UK national, this reflects the fondness with which many former alumni and former staff hold St Andrews, as is the case with other Scottish universities. I particularly enjoyed the university’s “Internationally Scottish” campaign. Forty-five per cent. of the university’s staff and students are international, and this campaign recognises their connection with Scotland. That is an enormous asset, which I am sure is welcomed across the House.

Like a number of my hon. Friends, I also recognise the fantastic NGO sector that thrives across Scotland, with organisations such as the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund, Mercy Corps, the HALO Trust and the John Smith Trust that have built up networks across the former Soviet Union and the middle east, providing a fantastic asset for our diplomats. Scotland is a soft superpower, but there is no point just being a soft superpower without looking at the practical areas where we should and can harness that power.