Brexit reaction: Indyref2 must be on the table, says Mullin

The UK decided to leave, Scotland decided to stay and the only other matter which is certain, is this: no-one knows what will happen next.

Friday, 1st July 2016, 11:05 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 8:04 pm
Kirkcaldy MP Roger Mullin at Westminster
Kirkcaldy MP Roger Mullin at Westminster

Just hours after David Cameron was pictured being commiserated by EU leaders on losing the referendum, Nicola Sturgeon was on a flight to Brussels herself, “absolutely determined” to uphold the democratic will of the Scottish people to stay within the EU.

But will that necessarily bring about another independence referendum, especially if the UK manages to renegotiate a relationship with the EU which, crucially, preserves access to the single market?

“I think that all possible options must be explored, up to and including a second independence referendum, which is exactly what our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set out to do,” Roger Mullin MP (SNP) told the Press.

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He added: “Nothing should be off the table at the moment, and Nicola Sturgeon will be trying to secure the best deal for Scotland.

“However, Scotland voted to remain within the EU. Thus, I believe that Scotland and her residents would potentially want to retain full EU membership, with all of the benefits, and compromises, that this option entails.”

While acknowledging the EU “was by no means perfect” The Kirkcaldy MP felt the benefits of full membership significantly outweighed costs in Scotland.

He commented: “We will likely suffer more financially as a result of the UK’s extraction from the EU than the rest of the UK.”

However, his predecessor Gordon Brown waded into the debate yesterday (Wednesday) encouraging the UK to look to a Norway-style agreement in the EU, which would secure access to the European single market with additional ‘safeguard measures’ to manage migration.

The alternative would be a decade of refighting the EU referendum which ignored greater challenges facing the UK economy - globalisation.

“A referendum that started off as an attempt to paper over divisions in the Tory party has now divided the whole country to its very core, and left us more isolated from our international partners than at any time since the humiliation of Suez,” he warned.

“A diverse country such as ours cannot afford years of the leave campaign’s inward-looking, anti-immigration rhetoric.

“But nor can we make progress through the remain camp’s tactic of brushing aside the country’s key concerns.”

However David Torrance, MSP for Kirkcaldy (below), told the Press he didn’t think the UK would be able to secure such a deal when it invokes Article 50.

He said: “Not when you consider the reaction from the German, French and Italian prime ministers,” he said. “They have made it perfectly clear that a result is a result.

“They wanted negotiations for Britain to leave the EU as quickly as possible.”

Mr Torrance believed everyone had been taken by surprise by the referendum result but the UK government’s response was a “shambles” and it should have been better prepared.

Praising Scotland for voting as an “outgoing and forward thinking country” he said: “ “What’s most important to us is access to the largest single market in the world.

“It’s so important to the food and drink industry in Fife and Scotland.”

The Press approached Diageo, which employs around 1000 staff across its three sites in Fife, and exports whisky and spirits worldwide.

A spokesman said: “We respect the views of the British people in the EU referendum.

“As one of the UK’s leading exporters, Diageo remains committed to the long term prosperity of the Scotch whisky industry and will now work closely with our industry bodies to seek clarity on the transition process.”

“It is a priority that the UK continues to benefit from open access to the EU as well as favourable international trade agreements to protect the UK’s important export industries, including Scotch whisky.”

While that statement suggested Diageo was wary of becoming embroiled in a political fire-storm it was later announced David Frost, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, would serve on a Standing Council on Europe – composed of specialists in legal, financial, business and diplomatic matters – to advise the Scottish Government on how to “protect Scotland’s relationship with and place in the European Union”.

He said: “The country faces some significant challenges, and potential opportunities, in the months to come.

“Whatever our own views on the great questions of the day, it’s important we all work to ensure decisions are based on the best possible analysis and advice.”

Meanwhile, Ruth Davidson, leader Scottish Conservatives, chose to remind parliament that two million Scots voted to remain in the UK in 2014.

“In the days since the result last week, it feels to many people across Scotland that the SNP is talking about nothing but independence,” she said.

“You do not dampen the shock waves caused by one referendum by lighting the fuse for another.

“Nor by saying that the economic impact of leaving one union means you should sever ties with a greater union whose value in trade eclipses it many times over.”