It has, as always, been an exceptionally busy time as your MP.
As I write this article, I am fresh from the Chamber in the House of Commons, after challenging UK Government Ministers on their disastrous record – in particular on the cost-of-living crisis and imposing a hard and damaging Brexit on Scotland.
As readers will know, Scotland by a landslide voted to stay part of the European Union. But we have been torn out against our democratic wishes. The largest act of economic self-harm any country has inflicted on itself in living memory. Brexit was imposed on us by a Westminster Government we didn’t elect, don’t want, and which has shown scant regard to the needs or ambitions of Scotland’s people. Such is the set-up of the UK that we are bound by the desires of the English Government which is indistinguishable from the UK version, being as they are one and the same thing.
Well, what have we to show for Brexit?
The loss of free movement across Europe – depriving all of us the chance to travel freely, without limits, within the EU. The end of ERASMUS; cutting off opportunities for our young people to study abroad, learn new languages at source and build opportunities for themselves with that experience. A tidal wave of bureaucracy which adds costs to our fishermen – and those here in Angus will be acutely aware of this. From Arbroath to Peterhead and further afield, Scottish fishermen have faced huge challenges in exporting their catch which once seamlessly entered the lucrative EU common market.
Our farmers face huge difficulty too – with the NFUS stating “No sector will be more directly affected by Brexit than ours”. They are right. Our farmers are now unable to export seed potatoes to Northern Ireland, or the EU (particularly relevant here in Angus) while the EU continues to export seed potatoes to the UK! The post-Brexit Australia Trade Deal means our supermarkets will be flooded with lower-quality produce from Australia. Their focus is on quantity, and the focus of local Angus and Scottish farmers is quality.
On a macroeconomic level, £100 billion a year of output is lost because of Brexit, according to Bloomberg Economics. And the London School of Economics estimates that Brexit had already cost UK households £5.8 billion in higher food bills by the end of 2021. Add to this that UK growth lags far behind EU nations, and that the trade deficit with the EU has grown to £92 billion, and the picture becomes ever clearer on the source of the current malaise of poverty.
The UK Government are using Brexit to strip workers’ rights from the statute book, with the Retained EU Law Bill, and the Minimum Service Levels Bill eroding the rights and protections we all cherish. This will further aid the transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest in society.
There is no “making Brexit work. The only solution for Scotland – for our economy, our people, and our future – is to get back into the EU at the earliest opportunity. To be back at the table, with a voice and vote in building a fairer, greener continent and a better world with Independence. Scotland said ‘not yet’ to Independence in 2014 – we are in a very different Scotland now.