Having grown up in Fife, Scotland has been my home again since 2000, after spending half my adult life south of the border. I still have many ties with family and friends ‘down south’. I was initially sceptical about independence back in 2014, but I engaged with the evidence and debate during the campaign and became convinced of the case for independence – I voted ‘yes’.
The ‘no’ campaign had threatened that independence would mean we would be forever excluded from the EU – an ultimately ironic threat if ever there was – but it cut no ice with me, as I was, and still am, confident that an independent Scotland will regain its rightful place in the EU, and in the wider world.
Europe has always been important to me: I lived and worked in France and Germany whilst a student; my now grown-up children have lived, studied and worked in various European countries thanks to freedom of movement; in my working life I built strong professional and friendship links in several countries across Europe, again facilitated by the EU, and I maintain those links though now retired. I feel European. And since returning to live in Scotland again, it seems to me that political and societal values expressed here are closely attuned to those of the European Union – equality, wellbeing of citizens, social justice, democracy, human rights, welcoming immigrants, environmental protection.
Historically the origins of the EU were rooted in the need for lasting peace in Europe following two devastating world wars: building healthy relationships with our neighbours, based on mutual respect, collaboration and support, has been a successful strategy for promoting peace and prosperity – it’s a ‘no brainer’.
So the UK’s decision to leave the EU is an error of epic proportions, one that will be enormously damaging for the UK and its citizens for decades to come. Brexit has been built on lies, corruption and unlawful manipulation of already weak UK constitutional and parliamentary arrangements. And that’s not all: these unsavoury Brexit machinations show the depths of dysfunction to which UK governance has sunk. Its failures in dealing with the corona pandemic are the latest, tragic manifestation of incompetence and callous disregard for the wellbeing of its citizens. Why would any nation wish to remain tied to this toxic UK state?
In Scotland we are capable of building a better society and establishing our place in Europe and the world. The case for Scottish self-determination is stronger than ever. We need to strive for independence and at the same time prepare for EU membership – this will involve many challenges and much hard work! Let’s work towards a shared vision of what Scotland can look like in just a few years: a self-determining, dynamic state, a respected and valued member of the EU.