The argument for Scotland’s place in the union has never been under greater strain.
But there is another union that offers prosperity and opportunity where the UK can only offer stagnation and decline.
Here’s why an independent Scotland can look forward to a fairer, wealthier and greener future as part of the European Union.
The benefits of EU membership
Despite voting 62% to 38% to remain in the European Union, Scottish voters were ignored throughout the negotiations and forced to endure the hardest of Brexits.
An independent Scotland in the European Union would mean that Scottish businesses would be part of the world’s largest single market with almost 450 million consumers. Scottish consumers here at home would also enjoy more product choice for better prices.
And businesses would have the same opportunities as other member states to access EU funding, such as support for agriculture, infrastructure, regional economic development and guaranteed participation in projects such as Horizon Europe, which supports research and innovation.
Scotland would be free of the disastrous and damaging Brexit being imposed by the UK government and which both Labour and the Tories are in agreement on.
The Westminster government’s own financial watchdog thinks Brexit will cut national income by 4% compared with EU membership – wiping around £100 billion from the UK economy and leaving each of us on average earnings £1,300 a year worse off.
During a cost of living crisis and facing an ever more unstable global landscape, Scots deserve security and stability – which cannot and will never be assured by the chaos of Westminster.
The EU would provide more job choices, with Scottish professional qualifications being recognised throughout. And the rights of Scots would be protected by EU law, benefiting from guaranteed minimum working conditions and protected social security rights.
As a Scottish citizen, and an EU citizen, you would have a right to live, visit, study and work freely in any EU member state, without burdensome paperwork.
You would have the right to equal access to healthcare if you fall sick or have an accident while travelling in the EU and, when assessing your career options, you could take advantage of the Erasmus+ scheme to study abroad and develop your language skills.
Safeguarding Scottish democracy
The security of Scottish democracy is threatened more now than at any time since devolution began.
Being part of the UK has put the integrity of the Scottish Parliament in doubt, with Westminster politicians passing draconian legislation that would never become law in an independent Scotland.
As an independent country in the European Union, Scots would never have to fear Westminster crackdowns on democracy or a right-wing agenda being pushed by politicians unelected in Westminster.
- Both Labour and the Conservatives have a preference to centralise power in Westminster, with Labour leader Keir Starmer having recently u-turned on his “sweeping” constitutional reforms, which included a proposal to replace the unelected House of Lords. This centralisation of power in Westminster reduces Scotland’s voice and puts power in the hands of politicians we didn’t vote for.
- A Conservative prime minister went so far as to claim devolution had been a disaster. This view stems from the notion that Scots make the ‘wrong’ choice at elections and shows a blatant disregard for Scottish voters to choose their own politicians and the direction of their country. Westminster has frequently proven difficult to engage with and has repeatedly sidelined devolved governments throughout these islands – particularly during the coronavirus pandemic and the Brexit process.
- Successive Conservative governments have passed draconian legislation cracking down on the right to vote and the right to protest, with the current Tory administration even entertaining the possibility of disapplying the European Convention on Human Rights for asylum seekers. Being part of the EU would strengthen Scotland’s commitment to human rights and protect Scots from this slippery slope that ends with politicians deciding which human beings deserve rights and which do not.
- A Labour government would not offer the change Scotland desperately needs. Keir Starmer has performed so many policy u-turns that it is almost impossible to find any major points of divergence between the Labour and Conservative parties. He has joined in calls to ‘stop the boats’ and has ruled out repealing Tory legislation such as the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill that limits the right to protest, or the new voter ID laws that disproportionately target young, migrant and low-income voters.
It is clear that being part of the UK puts Scotland’s democracy in danger of being overruled, marginalised and disregarded. Westminster is a flawed forum for the UK’s democracy, with the leading politicians of both the Labour and Conservative parties railing against reform.
The voice of Scottish voters would be protected in Europe, shielding Scotland from the democratic backsliding and infringement of rights and freedoms that has become the norm under the Tories.
A better relationship with the world
As part of the UK, Scotland often watches in horror as successive governments and prime ministers make repeated foreign policy blunders and align themselves with the worst of allies.
Rishi Sunak has allied himself with right-wing populists who have enacted anti-immigrant policies and sought to remove parental rights from same sex couples.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer, who may be the UK’s next prime minister, is building relations with populist leaders in the Middle East with the help of Tony Blair. He continues to resist calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, despite the BBC reporting 11,240 people have been killed, including 4,630 children.
An independent Scotland would be able to have a healthier, stronger relationship with countries around the world, setting our own foreign policy based on what is best for our citizens. Like other proud European nations, Scotland would have an internationalist, compassionate world view, free from the narrow and anti-immigrant obsessions of Westminster politicians.
The cold reality is that the UK no longer behaves like a serious country on the world stage. Brexit, the Rwanda plan and the humiliating permacrisis of successive Tory governments have all contributed to the worst possible perception of the UK.
Scotland deserves so much better.