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Referendums (Scotland) Bill: Stage 1

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 7th November 2019.

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Photo of Alex Rowley Alex Rowley Labour

Trade with the rest of the United Kingdom is worth £50 billion.

This morning, I read an article in

The Scotsman

, in which Michael Russell said that it would be down to the governance of the European Union as to how that border, or hard border, would work. How can we in this Parliament argue that a hard border in Ireland is a bad thing, but a hard border between Scotland and England is a price worth paying? The answer is that we cannot.

Most people do not want never-ending constitutional division and chaos. The bill is not required at this time, when we have gone through years of failed Tory austerity, when our public services are buckling under the failures of the Westminster and Edinburgh Governments, and when people are struggling daily to get by.

People are crying out for change. That change will not be delivered by putting up a border and changing a flag. The SNP’s growth commission demonstrates that independence cannot deliver the fundamental change that Scotland needs in our economy and in our society. There is no indication that an SNP-led independent Scotland would avoid the damage that is inflicted by neoliberal economic policies. The SNP growth commission also acknowledges that an independent Scotland would be shaped by foreign direct investment, low taxation and prolonged and intensified austerity—austerity on stilts.

Neither the status quo nor the nationalists’ proposals can provide what Scotland needs. Labour’s alternative for the future of our country is one in which our economy and our society are transformed for the better and for the many. It is a future in which real change has a real impact in order to make people’s lives better. We will invest on a scale that has never been seen before and we will deliver the necessary shift in the balance of power and wealth that we need to make our country fairer.

That will mean £250 billion of investment across the whole UK over the next 10 years, as part of our green transformation fund. It will mean £150 billion over the first five years of a Labour Government, as part of our social transformation fund—