We are, of course, biased towards being Scottish representatives in Westminster Parliament, but we think Scotland is the most interesting place in the world – and will be for a while. This is not only due to our natural environment, our food, our music or our cultural footprint, but also geopolitically. Scotland, strategically located in the North Atlantic between the European Union and the United States, is at the confluence of all major global trends in foreign affairs and world politics.
In an interdependent world there is an ongoing and lively discussion about Scottish independence, with recent polls showing no clear majority for or against independence. Scotland has a strong pro-European sentiment and the effects of Britain's voluntary (and forced) exit from the EU are still being felt. And the country has a unique kinship with Ireland, with a close interest in the still fragile peace process in the north of the island. The Scottish Government has tackled COVID-19 well with relative success, but there is the economic crisis to deal with.
Scotland also has a national election on May 6th which will give the people of Scotland the power to choose their national path. In those elections, our political party, the Scottish National Party (SNP), put in place gender, racial and disability balance mechanisms that could allow the Scottish Parliament to become one of the most representative legislatures in the world to match our already gender-balanced minority government. Scotland has just passed legislation to change voting rights from citizenship to residency for anyone aged 16 and over. If you are here, the Scottish Government says, you are one of us. And the biggest topic of our time: climate change. In November, Scotland will host the United States' climate change conference in Glasgow, which will hopefully make a tangible contribution to saving the planet.
It is important that the world understand the Scottish people, what is driving the debate in Scotland and where the country could be going. As the Scottish National Party's Foreign Affairs and Defense Spokesperson in the UK Parliament, it is our duty to make our friends and allies aware of what is going on in Scotland and what it means to them.
We were part of the independence team in 2014 when the country held a national referendum on staying in the UK – and lost our side. We believe that advocates of independence did not study the world sufficiently to explain, contextualize, and calm. We are determined to step up these efforts now that we are fairly certain that another independence referendum is coming up. We're only half-jokingly calling this effort "Project No Surprises".
An essential part of Project No Surprises is to make it clear that we do not expect anyone to interfere in the domestic discussion – on our side or any other. That would be as blatant as it is counterproductive. Still other countries and organizations have a legitimate interest in Scotland's domestic debate, as an independent Scotland will affect their own interests. As Alyn Smith said in a speech in Strasbourg as a Member of the European Parliament: “We do not want you to resolve our domestic discussions. We ask that you leave a light on so we can find our way home. "
We believe that an independent Scotland is good news for the world – and for Scotland too. Others disagree, and that's democracy. Of course, Scotland had a debate and vote on independence and pro-Britain in 2014. Page won with 55 percent of the vote. In normal times that would have settled the question for at least a while, but we're not in normal times. The British government made a fatal mistake in viewing all these voters as independent against independence. You are not. They just weren't convinced and their support for the European Union was dependent. The 2014 opposition campaign made a number of promises, and its constituents decided to stay with the UK based on a number of assumptions – including that the UK would continue to be part of a European Union that protects and empowers smaller countries . Those promises were not fulfilled and these assumptions were reversed two years later in another referendum. And the result: Brexit.
Where a nation sits in the world, who speaks for it and how it interacts with the world is a globally evolving question. Most problems are global in nature and larger than any country – large or small. This can be seen in the development of blocs like the Association of Southeast Asian Countries, the Gulf Cooperation Council or the EU in trade disputes, concerns about the Belt and Road initiative and scarcity of resources – and Scotland is no exception. In Scotland the miracle of the independence movement is that after 314 years with the United Kingdom there is still an independence movement, let alone a vibrant and electoral one. Independence in Europe is not a thing of the past. it's about the future. The people of Scotland have two unions to choose from and will test both of them on their merits.
This modern debate has ancient roots. Scotland has been independent much longer in our history than we have been part of Great Britain. Great Britain was founded in 1707 by an international treaty between two sovereign states (Scotland and England, which speak for a conquered Wales) to merge. The only time this union was presented to the Scottish people in a democratic vote in 2014 was in 2014. But during the pro-UK. Won side, the 2014 referendum basically moved the nation's collective psyche from "could we" independent to "should we", and the debate thoroughly ventilated the economy of independence.
The 2014 debate showed that contrary to what has long been believed, Scotland has what it takes in some areas to be a successful independent country and join the ranks of the richest countries in the world. Given this accepted reality, many Scots believed that the "best of both worlds" argument would have a powerful Parliament in Edinburgh and a constructive partnership with Britain. The opposition campaign said if we were a partnership we should lead Britain, not leave it, promising economic prosperity and "as close as possible to federalism." She also promised continuation of EU membership and questioned the yes campaign's promise of easy EU accession. For its part, the EU was squeamish about the legally unprecedented prospect of internal enlargement, an obstacle that has now been removed as a future independent Scotland from outside the EU would be considered a regular applicant state despite having been part of the EU for decades.
The day after the no then UK. Prime Minister David Cameron has fatally miscalculated the mood in Scotland by taking steps in the UK Parliament to introduce "English votes for English law" excluding Scottish Members of the UK Parliament from voting on exclusively English matters – hardly one “Only Britain” ”movement. Similarly, promises made by the Scottish Parliament's vastly increased power have simply not been fulfilled. The Smith Commission, which was investigating the problem, provided some remittances, but nothing to the extent promised.
It was Cameron's career-defining mistake in holding the EU referendum that revived the argument for independence. For Scotland, the 2016 EU referendum was not a stand-alone event. It was influenced and colored by the 2014 independence referendum just 18 months earlier, with the promises still fresh in our minds. And 62 percent of Scottish voters chose to stay in the EU, with each counting region also advocating continued EU membership, be it in the city or in the country, on the mainland or on the islands.
In the UK as a whole, 52 percent of people voted to quit. Then, over the next four years, the country fell into political chaos as it tried to figure out what Brexit actually meant. This chaos has not gone away. The EU-UK. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement was created to avoid a crash from the EU, but key policy areas, particularly those related to trade in services, have yet to be decided.
It is already clear that leaving has made trading more complex and expensive. It made the whole of the UK poorer. Iconic food and fisheries exports to the EU have been decimated, and free movement of British nationals has ended. It has narrowed the horizons of everyone in Britain in a myriad of practical and tangible ways – all on behalf of a project that Scotland rejected. For all talk of the EU's supposed democratic deficit, there is one far more blatant one that is closer to home.
So Scotland has a vigorous independence movement, not because we want to be separate or separated, but precisely because the Scottish people want to join bodies and work with others on common challenges. Membership in the UK took Scotland out of the EU against its will and made everyone's lives poorer.
Scotland's independent nation has been rooted around the world from its earliest days. From the Auld alliance with France of 1295 to the Lübeck letter, which the Scottish knight William Wallace sent to the Hanseatic League in 1297 and declared Scotland to be an enthusiastic trading partner, to the Arbroath Declaration, in which the independence of Scotland was given to the Pope in 1320 Judged in Rome, Scotland has always seen its independence as part of a larger picture. Scotland has felt more at home in the EU than the rest of the UK has ever done.
So an independent Scotland will be a reliable and constructive partner, a staunch ally and a fierce friend. The cornerstone of an independent Scottish foreign policy will be EU membership. The cornerstone of his defense policy will be NATO membership. The cornerstone of its trade and economic policy will be EU membership. The re-entry into the EU internal market and the customs union will raise the already strong economic case for Scotland's independence. Scotland is trying to step into existing things and not reinvent the wheel. Scotland will be a smaller state like Ireland, but within a global A-team, good news for the EU out of the desperation of Brexit. Unlike Ireland, Scotland will try to be a reliable NATO partner. It's too important a strategic position not to be.
All of this, of course, has implications for other countries, not least Britain itself. The independence side needs to contact Britain to discuss this. The proposed State Building will be an exciting and stimulating project as Scotland becomes a good citizen of the world. As the Scots carry on this debate at home, we appreciate your interest and would like to explain what is going on. In the meantime, we must all think about how we can turn the United States climate conference into a Glasgow accord to be proud of. The world will watch.