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European Union Withdrawal Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Richard Leonard Richard Leonard Labour

The answer is yes, I am in favour of a people’s vote. I am also saying that if there is still an opportunity for a general election, we should take it, and that if there is still an opportunity to revise the deal next week, we should take that, too.

It is important to recognise where the real division in society lies. It is not between the people in Aberdeen who voted to remain and those in Abergavenny who voted to leave, and it is not between working-class families in Scotland and working-class families in London or Wales. Those are false divisions, propagated by those whose sole purpose is to divide communities and to wield power for its own sake. Our purpose is not to divide people; it is to bring people together on the basis that Scotland’s economy can no longer be just left to the market. We need a more radical approach that extends democracy into our workplaces and communities, to bring about real change and give people hope by tackling inequality, giving people dignity in retirement, ending the attacks that deliberately hit the poorest the hardest, building the homes that we need, investing in our industries, investing in our public services and investing in our people again.

We have to find a way forward that brings all our communities together, however they voted in the EU referendum and whatever their views are now. If we do not do that, we risk division and instability for years to come. We have to strive for popular consent. We have to unite and not divide. That is the decisive battle that we face. It is a battle that we must wage in the name of democracy, according to the principles of consent, not only inside our Parliaments and Assemblies but out there in our communities.