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At 11pm last Friday, Scotland was dragged out of the European Union (EU), against the express will of her people and parliament.
The Prime Minister’s deal is now law and the European Parliament sang Auld Lang Syne as they bade us farewell. Our part in an EU that has bound the nations of Europe together in peace and prosperity for decades is, for now at least, over.
The majority opinion in Scotland and indeed here in North Ayrshire and Arran, is to stay in the EU. We value the benefits membership brought and at every electoral opportunity since the EU referendum, including the last general election, the people of Scotland backed parties and candidates who supported remaining.
Given Scotland’s support for staying in the EU, while respecting the outcome of the 2016 referendum, the SNP Government sought a compromise to ensure that if we left, it would cause as little economic damage as possible for our nation and people. Proposals to allow Scotland to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union were dismissed out of hand by the UK Tory Government.
The deal that has gone through offers those concessions to Northern Ireland, unquestionably putting Scotland at a competitive economic disadvantage. Every UK nation gets what it voted for or will stay in the single market and customs union, except Scotland, which was ignored.
In 2014, during the independence referendum campaign, Scotland was told that the UK was a union of equals and we should lead, not leave it. No rational assessment supports this fiction. How can the UK be a union of equals when the democratically devolved legislatures in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all refused to consent to the withdrawal agreement, which will cut jobs, reduce prosperity and damage our relationships with our European partners?
Last week I led a debate on the Claim of Right for Scotland, the principle which recognises that Scotland’s people have the sovereign right to decide how we are governed. This Right is now under attack, as the UK Government disrespects devolution and Scotland’s democratic will.
The Tories are ignoring the general election result from last December. They unequivocally urged voters in Scotland to vote for them to stop another independence referendum. We in the SNP stood firmly on a platform of saying no to Brexit and yes to Scotland’s right to choose our own future. The SNP won 48 of the 59 Scottish constituencies, the Tories just six.
It is not democratically sustainable or ethical for the Tories deny the people of Scotland the right to determine our own future. Therefore, a Constitutional Convention to engage with all sections of Scottish society will be convened to take our country forward.
Scotland has reached a pivotal moment. There has been a material change in circumstances since 2014, when Scots were told the only way to stay in Europe was to vote No.
We have a right which we claim in no uncertain terms, to choose our own future and we will not be denied.
Patricia Gibson MP,
North Ayrshire & Arran.
Can the Arran Ferry Action Group, Arran Banner January 11, explain how much more joined up the buses on Arran can be, when they already meet every boat and hold even when the boat is late, making them late too.
As I, and other users of buses, are getting fed up waiting in the rain, cold, sleet and snow for late buses due to late ferries. Time and time again this happens and I for one are fed up to the back teeth of boats being late making buses late!
Also can they explain to us all how they are going to simplify using travel pass cards when getting a ferry ticket? Sounds to me like some folk are just to lazy or find it inconvenient to take the card out and show staff when they get their tickets!
The first thing that needs action is the removal of the CalMac board of management for dereliction of duty etc, etc, not silly little things like buses or cards. CalMac management is the problem.
PS: Does the action group not realise buses have other duties to fulfil and if the ferry is late it compromises that schedule.
Reading opened wide world portals for me in my own childhood. It allowed my imagination to soar and to travel to places beyond whatever situation I found myself in. Reading is a great equaliser- it inspires us to meet our fellow humans, to understand, empathise and enter landscapes we could never dream of experiencing in one lifetime. Reading contributes to a better quality of life, impacts on our health, spirit, educational opportunities and well being … it connects us to each other and our own humanity.
I have seen first-hand – through working with refugee children forced to travel and surviving alone, without family – what a transformational impact escaping into a book can have in helping them to keep hope alive in unimaginably unstable situations they should never have to face. To hear a child laugh and reconnect to childhood in these harsh circumstances is life affirming. It is out of this instinct that I created a magical story hive in my book Where The River Runs Gold, where the children take refuge whenever they need.
However, for millions of children across the globe, especially those displaced and living in war-torn countries, access to this story hive of books is closed to them.
I want every child to be able to reach for that book that brings them light. That’s why this World Book Day (Thursday March 5) I’m supporting Book Aid International. Their fundraising efforts mean more children and young people will have access to books. Every day I’m inspired by the stories children have to tell and being a part of World Book Day means we can spread the enjoyment of reading even further.
Just £2 helps send another book, giving children the opportunity to read, learn and have fun. The Book Aid International website (www.bookaid.org) has plenty of exciting World Book Day fundraising ideas for schools and parents. Whether you host a Big Booky Breaktime, have a sponsored Read-A-Thon or run your own unique fundraising event, it will have a positive effect.