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Annabel Goldie: First Minister should promote Scotland not a second independence referendum

5 Jul 2016

Annabel Goldie MSP

Nicola Sturgeon should promote Scotland’s interests and not a second independence referendum, Baroness Goldie said today.

In a keynote speech to the House of Lords, Baroness Goldie said the First Minister’s contribution to the UK leaving the EU was to promote SNP party interests.

She told the House of Lords:

“What is Nicola Sturgeon’s healing and measured contribution to this crisis? She wants to prepare for another independence referendum.

“It is a seriously misjudged response. It may reflect the Scottish National Party’s interests. It profoundly disserves Scotland’s national interest.”

She adds: “Firstly 1.6 million votes in Scotland to remain in the European Union do not cancel out 2m votes to stay in the United Kingdom union.

“Secondly the union she wants to leave accounts for two thirds of Scotland’s exports. The union she wants to join accounts for just 15 per cent of Scotland’s exports.

“Thirdly the fundamental flaws of the separation case remain unaltered – no central bank, no currency, and a worsening budget deficit of £15b and business jitters.”

Setting out how the First Minister should manage UK negotiations with the EU, she added:

“My message to Nicola Sturgeon is this. Your country’s interests are at stark variance with your party’s interests.

“Your duty in these turbulent times is to your country.

“Protect Scotland and promote Scotland by being at the heart of the UK leave negotiations.

“Use your considerable skills to inform and influence these discussions.

“Use your position to reassure the business community and to engender  stability.

“Above all else do not wreck that positive platform for progress by re-igniting the destructive and divisive process of an independence referendum.”
Notes to editors

My Lords, vocabulary is inadequate to describe the post EU referendum events.
There have been appalling incidents of racism which we condemn as of one.
On an almost daily basis the political world has presented us with drama, crisis and shock as the body politic has ripped itself to shreds.
Much of that has been accompanied by meaningless platitude, vapid generalisation, acerbic rhetoric and behaviour which transcends anything even the most inventive scriptwriter for a TV soap opera could concoct.
Amongst all this verbal detritus, a bewildered and divided public is looking for a vision, a plan, a map, a compass, anything which might seem to have about it a whiff of direction, a road to travel.
My Lords in the midst of this chaos there are some certainties. We need to sift them out.
Firstly the result, the UK decided to leave the EU. I wanted to remain, I don’t like the result, I regret the result but I absolutely must respect that result.
Indeed the most certain way of keeping the wounds of division across the UK raw and bleeding, is by not respecting that result.
The recrimination, the regret, the blame, they are in the past.
The future is about the new journey which we have been mandated to embark upon, trying to heal and unite as we travel, moving forward with purpose, focus and hope.
The second certainty is that within two years of invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK will leave the EU.
Thirdly the UK negotiations for that exit can only be led by the UK Government as the member state.
And finally by early September, we shall have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet ready to lead these negotiations.
These are the certainties but swirling around them are tides, eddies, currents and undertows with hidden reefs which will require consummate skill, astuteness and wisdom to navigate.
And sadly it will not be David Cameron who leads us through these uncharted depths.
I understand why he felt he had to resign, I think his decision was the correct one.
It makes me no less sad at losing him as Prime Minister.
I had just become Leader of the Scottish Conservatives in 2005 when David became UK leader in November of that year. He was a great support to me, always available to speak to, always ready with sound advice.
He has provided firm and courageous leadership during very difficult and challenging times.
This country is in an incomparably better place than it was in 2010.
I want to thank him for that tremendous contribution.
As for his successor, this is not a time for experiments.
We need someone steadfast in their political views and steadfast with their political colleagues, steeled by experience at the highest levels of government with proven wisdom and good judgment, someone in whom the British public can have confidence and someone who is known to and respected by international leaders, including those in the remaining EU countries.
For me that person is Theresa May. She is what this country needs at this critical time.
My Lords, different contributors to this debate will want to focus on particular aspects.
It will surprise no one that I want to talk about Scotland which voted decisively to remain in the EU.
It will surprise no one that I and Nicola Sturgeon interpret that outcome very differently.
I voted to remain in the EU but on the basis that the UK would be the member state. That was the question before me.
I read the ballot paper carefully and I don’t recall any explanatory note saying  “and by the way if you live in Scotland, your remain vote will be a Nicola mandate to keep  Scotland minus the UK in the EU.”
What an illogical and flawed proposition.
An EU without the UK as a member state is a materially changed EU. Who knows what shape it will take, who knows what shape it will be in!
So when Nicola Sturgeon says she has a mandate to try and keep Scotland in Europe, I say simmer down, you have nothing of the sort.
What she does have is a responsibility as Scotland’s First Minister to do all she can to ensure that Scotland’s best interests are at the very heart of the leave negotiations.
That involvement can only be as part of the UK negotiations.
Now her Ecosse charm offensive, clicking her stilettoes round the corridors of Brussels, may assist these negotiations. She is a formidable communicator but her role and her responsibility is to keep the Scottish dimension at the forefront of the UK negotiations not to go off on some diplomatic exit frolic of her own.
My Lords many may have doubted how divisive a referendum campaign can be. I have now lived through two doses of corrosive referendum acrimony.
What is Nicola Sturgeon’s healing and measured contribution to this crisis? She wants to prepare for another independence referendum.
It is a seriously misjudged response. It may reflect the Scottish National Party’s interests. It profoundly disserves Scotland’s national interest.
Firstly 1.6 million votes in Scotland  to remain in the European Union do not cancel out  2 million votes to stay in the United Kingdom Union.
Secondly the union she wants to leave accounts for two thirds of Scotland’s exports. The union she wants to join accounts for just 15% of Scotland’s exports.
Thirdly the fundamental flaws of the separation case remain unaltered – no central bank, no currency, a worsening budget deficit of £15 billion pounds and business jitters.
My message to Nicola Sturgeon is this. Your country’s interests are at stark variance with your party’s interests.
Your duty in these turbulent times is to your country.
Protect Scotland and promote Scotland by being at the heart of the UK leave negotiations.
Use your considerable skills to inform and influence these discussions.
Use your position to reassure the business community and to engender  stability.
Above all else do not wreck that positive platform for progress by re-igniting the destructive and divisive process of an independence referendum.
My Lords we may have made a decision to leave one union. That decision is the very reason why we must strain every sinew to protect and preserve our United Kingdom union.