In 1997, the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly—by 74 per cent to 26 per cent—to establish the Scottish Parliament. Many will have done so in order to stop a Conservative Party with no mandate in Scotland from imposing policies with little or no support. Throughout the 18-year period of Conservative rule in the 1980s and 1990s, the Tories tried to recast Scotland in their own right-wing image. Undoubtedly, that was a major driver for many people in the campaign for devolution. Parties with different views of Scotland’s ultimate constitutional destination came together and focused on where we agreed, rather than disagreed. I hope that we will see a similar spirit in this debate, because the Tories have not lost their hunger to recast Scotland in that right-wing image.
The previous Tory tactic was to try to stop the Scottish Parliament from being re-established. Having failed, the Tories’ current tactic is to try to bypass and constrain this Parliament and Scotland’s democratic choices. That is what the United Kingdom Government’s internal market proposals will do—they take power from this Parliament and hand it to Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings in Westminster.
The Tories have hijacked and distorted reasonable principles such as mutual recognition and non-discrimination to disguise that power grab. To add insult to injury, not only do their proposals flagrantly undermine devolution, but they use Brexit, which the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly against, as a justification for doing so.
The Scottish Government will oppose those proposals at every opportunity and will work across the chamber and with the people and businesses of Scotland to build consensus in doing so.