Can I firstly welcome you to the chair, Mr Deputy Speaker? I’m sure you realised pretty quickly that you had picked the short straw when you secured this debate.
As you’ve observed so far, Scottish debates in this House are always characterised by their good nature and consensus, and as you can see we’re all getting on famously once again today!
I’m sure, like me, Mr Deputy Speaker, you would have just about distinguished the Honourable lady’s dreary contribution from a ray of sunshine.
That, Mr Deputy Speaker, is because these anti-independence parties can’t cobble together a positive case for the union. They have to resort to a depressing diet of telling Scotland “you cannae dae that, we’re no gonna let you do this, and don’t even think about that!”.
You have been fortunate, though, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you have been spared the pathetic and appalling name calling that they have indulged in the past fortnight.
The First Minister of Scotland has been called a “bare faced liar” a “chancer” likened to a cork screw and you don’t even want to know about the personal insults.
This from a party that gets upset about anonymous posting on the Scotsman’s online comments section!
What they are attempting to do, of course, is to try and undermine the confidence in the viability of an independent Scotland and scaremongering is the most effective tool in the unionist tool box.
For them, they have to portray an independent Scotland as being bereft of currency, EU membership, credit ratings, The X Factor and even our giant pandas!
They know that as the two options about Scotland’s future take shape, the Scottish people will increasingly opt for the positive choice of a normal, self governing Scotland in charge of its own resources, against a Scotland tethered to a failing UK almost relaxed about its decline.
Scaremongering on Europe is currently the “plat du jour” and what an effort they have invested in it. Barely a day goes by without another instalment provided in association with their friends in the press.
But let’s look at the reality of the situation.
This debate is called ‘The Constituent Parts of the UK and EU Membership.’
As a constituent part of the UK, Scotland is a member of the EU
When Scotland becomes an independent nation Scotland will remain a member of the European Union.
Our membership of the EU came about through being a part of the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom came about through the Act of Union which united the Scottish and English Parliaments.
When Scotland votes to leave the UK, the UK as we know it will be no more.
When it comes to issues such as EU membership, Scotland and the rest of the UK are entirely in the same boat.
If the absurd notion comes to pass that Scotland is to be kicked out, what is left of the UK will be kicked out too.
Maybe that’s why the UK Government are not keen to seek legal advice from the EU about the status of an independent Scotland.
But can I reassure all my English colleagues here. Your EU membership is secure. I know a growing number of you may despair at such a reassurance, but there is simply no precedent or process to boot out a part of the EU .
This fox was effectively shot last week when Graham Avery of the University of Oxford, a senior adviser at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, and honorary director general of the European Commission said to the Westminster Foreign Affairs Committee:
“For practical and political reasons the idea of Scotland leaving the EU, and subsequently applying to join it, is not feasible.”
And no one takes seriously the proposition that the EU will try to expel Scotland following the 2014 referendum.
Even Unionists know it’s nonsense.
Willie Rennie, one of “Better Together’s” high command said in FMQs last week,
“The First Minister and I agree that it would be unlikely that an independent Scotland would be excluded from the EU.”
Maybe the latest instalment of the scaremongering agenda hasn’t got down here yet, but can I say ever so gently to Honourable members of the “no” persuasion -the scaremongering has moved on and try keep up?
And why would anyone in the EU even contemplate such a move? Scotland has been inside the EU for 40 years. We already comply with all necessary EU legislation.
We are an oil-rich, renewable energy-rich, fishing-rich European nation and as an independent nation we would be welcomed with open arms.
Our message is clear and unambiguous: Scotland‟s future inside the EU is safe.
However, can the Honourable lady say the same if we stayed in the union?
What is the real threat to Scotland’s EU membership?
Well it’s not an independent Scotland – it is the union and the Westminster Tories.
What I observe down here is all three political parties running scared of the UK Independence Party, which is now expected to win the 2014 European Parliament elections in England.
We’ve seen that such is the passion of the Tory backbench that they’re even prepared to defeat their own Government to pursue their anti-Europe agenda
Getting the UK out of the EU seems to be coming the official policy of the Government, with the Labour Party, as always, dutifully following on behind.
As a constituent part of the UK, Scotland’s relationship with Europe is characterised by a dreary euro-scepticism.
The influence of the UK Government in EU negotiations has reached an all-time low. Even our closest friends are fed up with British obstructionism and the lecturing on the alleged failings of our partners.
The UK has been reduced to a sulky, semi-withdrawn member of the EU, plotting its own course to the way out.
The Westminster Tories have withdrawn us from the European Arrest Warrant, when the Scottish police say that this makes law enforcement in Scotland more difficult.
This is not what my constituent part of the UK wants from its relations with Europe.
An independent Scotland would, instead, be a positive member of the EU. With our own voice and place at the top table we would ensure that vital Scottish interests are pursued and protected.
I firmly believe that the majority of Scots want a future inside the EU.
The question simply is: Do we want to be independent in Europe or isolated in the UK?
Mr Deputy Speaker, I know what I would rather be, and I know what the Scottish people will choose.”