I wish the Prime Minister well, and I hope she recovers her voice in a speedy manner.
When standing for election for the Highlands and Islands in the European elections, Winifred Ewing said the following:
“This vast area—the largest seat in Europe—really must have a Scottish voice to speak up for it, with no priorities like the London parties and no diktats from London, just simply to speak up for the vast area and all the industries, all of which are under threat”.
Madame Ecosse—our trailblazer for Scotland’s voice being heard in Europe—strengthened our cultural ties and our communities’ opportunities by fighting for a strong voice for Scotland in the European Union. Winnie Ewing used her voice in Europe to attract funding to the highlands and islands that benefited local transport hubs and infrastructure. Winnie also chaired the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education when the Erasmus programme was established in the late 1980s, which is why Scotland cherishes the opportunities that it brings to our students and to our country. To stand here today, with only 17 days to go until we exit the EU, and know that Scotland’s historical place in Europe is under threat is devastating.
“United in diversity” is the motto of the European Union, and it first came into use in 2000. It signifies how independent states came together in common endeavour to work for peace and prosperity. The beauty of the European project is that it has allowed us to work together while being enriched by the continent’s many different cultures, traditions and languages. We have been enriched by cultural diversity while the single market has granted economic opportunities to our citizens. We have only gained, not lost. In Europe, we learn from each other. Just last month, the Irish Seanad debated following in Scotland’s footsteps by introducing the baby box, which is a progressive policy that is benefiting the lives of citizens in Scotland. That is what the European Union has always been about: partnership to improve the lives of our nations and advance the opportunities for our citizens and our communities. Standing together, we have worked to protect our values of human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights. Our shared endeavour has been to build a society in which inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination prevail.