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I beg to move,
That this House
has considered e-petitions 180642 and 168781 relating to a referendum on Scottish independence.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bailey, in what I am sure will be an interesting and lively debate. I thank the Petitions Committee for allowing me introduce the two petitions before us. The petitions are diametrically opposed, representing opposite views on essentially the same issue—Scottish independence and how that should be determined. One of the petitions is entitled, “Another Scottish independence referendum should not be allowed to happen”, and it reads as follows:
“We in Scotland are fed up of persecution by the SNP leader who is solely intent on getting independence at any cost. As a result, Scotland is suffering hugely.”
The other is entitled, “Agree to a second referendum on Scottish Independence”, and it reads as follows:
“The actions of the UK government after the Brexit vote do not align with the people of Scotland. We are not bigoted. We are not racist. We welcome everybody based on their contribution, not on where they come from. The UK government does not behave in this way and so we must LEAVE.”
Petitions by their nature express a grievance, as both petitions make clear. It is not possible simultaneously to support the premise of both petitions, as my electronic mailbag has demonstrated over the last few weeks in the number of emails I have received supporting or opposing either position. I have selected a few representative excerpts that sum up the debate among my constituents and to give a flavour of what has been said. One says:
“I ask you to argue that the sovereign will of the Scottish people must be respected.”
It is interesting that although that point was made by somebody who opposes an independence referendum, very similar points were made by those who support one. A constituent said:
“I would ask you to take a motion to investigate precisely whom effected a constituent coup, that precluded the majority from being respected.”
Again, I directly quote a no petitioner, but similar points were also made by those arguing in favour of an independence referendum. Another said:
“the people voted to remain part of the U.K.”.
That is a historically factual position. Another email said:
“I would like to remind you that NO means NO.”
I will come back to that point. One said:
“I strongly urge you to continue to investigate keeping Scotland in the EU.”
That was a very common feature, again from both sides. Another wanted to work
“to help attract skilled workers to create a better and diverse Scotland in the future.”
Other emails stated:
“There is a democratic deficit, seen by such things as EVEL;
there is a need for independence”,
“Brexit has caused a material change and our views are being ignored.”
It is, however, possible simultaneously to oppose both positions, as several correspondents suggested. That is best expressed by the following quote:
“Scottish independence and Scottish sovereignty don’t require the permission of Westminster. They require ours”— a view that I have considerable sympathy with.
There is quite a range of varied opinions. It is quite clear from just that snapshot, which I hope flavours the arguments of both sides of the debate, that the underlying thought process clearly is whether someone supports self-determination, and how they think that would be best determined.