Pages tagged with "Westminster"

Energy freeze won't cool Scotland's anger over energy rip-off

The UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has decided to extend the current cap on energy prices for another three months - but that is not enough to help Scottish families who have to pay over the odds to heat their homes. 

The headline figure says that this will keep average bills at £2,500 a year instead of pushing them up to £3,000. But people living in Scotland, especially in rural areas, pay more while average incomes are lower - leading to soaring levels of fuel poverty. Energy Action Scotland calculates that the Scottish average bill is £1,000 more than England. 

An analysis from February 2022, before the bulk of the fuel bill rises, showed that the levels of fuel poverty range were already running at 57% in Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, 47% in Highland and 46% in Argyll and Bute.

The irony is that these are the very areas which produce energy, from oil and gas to wind and tidal power. When Scotland becomes independent, its elected government will be empowered to regulate and tax energy producers in a way that puts Scotland’s people at the heart of energy policy. 

Too little too late

The gesture by the UK Government to freeze prices comes as falling energy prices on the global market has meant the cap has cost them less than predicted. The wholesale price of gas fell by 75% since its peak in Summer 2022. Given this drop in prices, the UK Government should have the capacity to reduce bills instead of freezing them, perhaps by extending the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme payments which come to an end this month. 

The freeze is obviously better than an egregious rise. But the people of Scotland are frustrated about how Westminster has seen fit to manage Scotland’s energy resources and want to take the levers of power into their own hands. 

Scotland produces around as much energy as it uses from renewable sources that cost 9 times less than gas- we should pay less for energy, not more.

Scottish people are angry about energy rip off

The people of Scotland are increasingly angry that they have to dance to Westminster’s tune on energy. They live in an energy rich country but don’t see the benefits. They have seen how the UK Government’s pursuit of ideological privatisation has impacted the lives of ordinary people. 

British Gas was once in public ownership. Under the Centrica name, in February it announced that last year, profits had tripled to a record £3.3 billion as energy prices and production soared, paving the way for a £300 million share buy-back - at the same time as it was sending debt collectors to forcibly install prepayment meters. 

Why Scots are unfairly burdened when it comes to energy costs

  • The much-quoted “average” of £2,500 a year hides the fact that, in much of Scotland, bills are higher. 
  • Many people living in Scotland outside of the Central Belt don’t have access to gas, which is still priced lower than electricity - despite the fact it is much cheaper to produce.
  • Scotland pays higher standing charges than most of England.
  • Temperatures tend to be lower in Scotland, so people need to use more energy.
  • The UK is the only European country (except Portugal which was forced to do so after a financial crisis) to have privatised the national grid. This has led to additional problems with lack of investment and planning for the transition to renewables. 
  • The privatised National Grid operates across the UK as a whole - there is no opportunity for Scotland to make greater use of its own renewable energy or charge to export it to England.
  • The National Grid also does not allow Scotland to set its own demand signals - for example making energy cheaper at weekends as some countries do. 
  • The amount that is charged in the fixed portion of bills includes clawing back money lost when 30 energy supply firms went bust due to regulatory failure that can be laid at the door of the UK Government.
  • Household energy bills also include a levy for expensive nuclear power that Scotland doesn’t want or need. 
  • Scottish households pay the highest energy bills in Europe - where many governments have nationally-owned power companies. 

Cheapskate gesture won’t buy off demands for independence

The UK Government’s cheapskate gesture is too little too late for Scotland. Falling gas and electricity prices mean the government has already made a saving – the scheme was forecast to cost £37bn in January. It does nothing to recognise that Scotland is suffering from higher levels of fuel poverty while its natural resources are plundered for profit. 

Scotland is at the mercy of the UK government when it comes to regulating the energy market. It has become obvious that the pursuit of ideological privatisation has led to a situation where ordinary people pay much higher bills and that money ends up in the profits of energy companies, who have used it to fund share buybacks and dividends.

While the overall UK energy policy comes under question, an independent Scotland could consider whether to build back some public ownership and how to regulate the private sector in a way that puts people at the heart of energy policy. It could certainly charge less if it controlled its own renewable energy supply. 

Scotland is sick of seeing successive Westminster governments exploit Scotland’s energy resources for profit without protecting the interests of Scotland’s people. It is time for independence.

10 reasons why Brexit is behind the UK's food shortages

The mainstream news media is reporting that fresh vegetable shortages in British supermarkets are caused by “bad weather in Spain and Morocco”. But Brexit is a big factor - it has disrupted Britain’s supply chains and is reducing food production in the UK. 

Social media is awash with photos of groaning shelves in European supermarkets with arrays of tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers and even cauliflowers -  all largely absent from many UK shops. European newspapers such as the authoritative Der Spiegel are reporting on this as purely a British issue, confirming that this is not happening in EU countries.  

10 reasons why Brexit is behind the UK’s food shortages

#1 It is harder and less attractive to trade with the UK

There has been bad weather in Spain and Morocco - but Brexit has played a part in disrupting supply chains, increasing the time and expense of importing fresh produce and making the UK a less attractive place to trade. 

#2 When there isn’t enough to go around - the UK is at the back of the queue

After Brexit, Britain increased its dependence on imports from Morocco - which is not in the EU -  especially for crops like winter tomatoes. The government trumpeted the roll-over trade deal it managed to sign with Morocco. But when there isn’t enough to go around, it is easier and more profitable for those suppliers to sell to the EU.

With no direct freight ferry, UK importers have to manage direct logistics from Morocco to UK retailers, crossing two EU borders en route. Moroccan farmers can sell produce to EU-wide wholesalers, rather than small, unprofitable UK export firms.

#3 The pound has lost ground against the Euro, making it harder to compete on price

The pound has lost 19% of its value against the Euro since the Brexit vote, making it harder for UK buyers to compete on price. Before the 2016 vote, one pound was worth €1.40. It is now worth €1.14. That means British buyers have to pay Brexit around 19% more just to stand still. Brexit has already been blamed for putting up the price of food bills in the UK significantly. 

#4  Club members come first

Spain obviously prefers to trade within the single market “club”. Expat Euro TV journalist Alex Taylor who teaches journalism at the Sorbonne shared pictures from his local French supermarket and wrote on Twitter:

“When you're in a club and there are difficulties (of tomatoes, in winter, hello !) club members first help each other out before shipping off somewhat rarer tomatoes to a country which has been ranting about how it's priding itself on making it much harder to do trade with them ! So yes ! It IS a Brexit issue, despite what media and even Waitrose may be telling their customers"

Later, Alex Taylor tweeted this map to illustrate the point:

#5 Even in Kyiv in Ukraine, it is easier to get tomatoes

The veteran reporter John Sweeney shared on his war diary a video of a Kyiv supermarket amply supplied with tomatoes. In the clip he suggests that the Brexit campaign was partly funded by donations from Russia - donations that have never been adequately investigated.

Twitter users shared a clip from Talk TV Breakfast News incident where a reporter from Kyiv in Ukraine tried to say that it is easier to get tomatoes there than in London and that this is because of Brexit, but the presenter drowned him out by repeating "It's nothing to do with Brexit".

#6 Trade imbalance means many lorries return to the EU empty

The UK doesn't have import controls yet - they have been postponed (again) until the 1st of January 2024. But it has export controls and that has led to a slump in exports to the EU. The growing imbalance between imports and exports mean a lot of lorries go back to the EU empty - and that makes the journey less commercially attractive.

#7 Ireland is suffering too - because it is still partly supplied via the UK

Ireland is also affected by the shortage because a significant amount of its retailers are still supplied by UK wholesalers and a big percentage of exports still come across the UK ‘landbridge’. They are increasing ferry capacity direct from Europe but it takes longer and costs more than when both countries were in the EU.

#8 The UK wasn't part of an EU agreement to protect food producers from rising energy costs

Farmers are struggling with massive energy costs,  

The New Statesman reported: "Had Brexit not happened, the British government would have been forced to go along with European Union decisions on how to help farmers through this situation, meaning that British growers might have had more support. The UK has decided not to include horticulturalists in its energy support scheme; in the EU a €500m support package has helped farmers to grow fruit and vegetables on fallow land. 

Former Sainsbury's CEO Justin King said UK food production has been "hurt horribly by Brexit". He told Nick Ferrari At Breakfast on LBC that UK greenhouses, previously known to grow tomatoes, have suffered in recent years. 

"These are products that we do produce, or in the past have produced year round in the UK. North Kent, in Thanet, [had] the largest greenhouses in Europe, which used to be full of peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. But those greenhouses have suffered, really, from two big things. I hate to say it, Nick, but it's a sector that's been hurt horribly by Brexit."

#9 Production in the UK is down, partly due to the end of free movement 

Production of fresh produce in the UK is down for several reasons - one of them being the lack of seasonal workers. Many growers have had to let crops rot in the ground due to labour shortages in recent harvests, and have planted less since. The shortage of cauliflowers and other brassicas is set to worsen. The number of seasonal visas granted by the UK government is far short of what is needed - and when these workers are in short supply, small Scottish farms that can't afford to pay the highest wages lose out. 

Save British Farming chair Liz Webster said

“The reason that we have food shortages in Britain, and that we don’t have food shortages in Spain – or anywhere else in the European Union – is because of Brexit, and also because of this disastrous Conservative Government that has no interest in food production, farming or even food supply.”

#10 The situation could worsen as the UK moves away from CAP and Brexit continues to bite

It looks unlikely that PM Rishi Sunak will be able to break the impasse over the Northern Ireland protocol which is worsening relations with the EU. Even the Labour party wants to continue with Brexit.

UK farming is being hit hard by energy bills, and by coming out of the Common Agricultural Policy. That is designed so that much of the cost of food production is borne by taxpayers not those who pay at the till. But the UK government is not likely to allocate the same degree of funding - and therefore Scotland will be short-changed through the "block grant".

Businesses face a “cliff edge” in support next month. They have to pay far higher energy costs than competitors in many EU countries. The NFUS wants to see food producers pay lower energy costs, as they are a critical industry. 

The NFUS annual survey of farmers shows many Scottish farmers are affected by the disruption and lack of certainty caused by leaving the Common Agricultural Policy, which gives long-range stability and food security for countries within the European Union. Scottish farmers also feel betrayed by deals the UK has struck with Australia and New Zealand which threaten the commercial viability of their farms in the long term. 

Yes, bad weather has reduced the supply of fresh produce. But the UK is losing out from not being part of the EU's single market which has always prioritised food security.  Food production at home is also been damaged.

An independent Scotland back in the EU would be able to build a country where nutritious food is affordable and available to all, as it is across the European Union. 

Westminster's Section 35 block on Scottish law fundamentally undermines UK democracy

The UK Government has decided to block the Scottish Government’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, despite the legislation falling under devolved competence. A move which Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said will almost certainly end up in court.  As we have been predicting, this is a worrying intensification of Westminster’s efforts to undermine devolution and reduce Scotland’s political autonomy.

Make no mistake: this is a political crisis for the UK and it’s one of Westminster's own making because no Westminster party has ever truly been committed to making devolution work.  Of course, they defined devolution working as stopping the inevitable rise in support for Scottish independence and in those terms, it has been an abject failure for the Union.  Devolution has been immensely popular with voters and where devolution has worked is in the Scottish Government's acting to mitigate some of the worst impacts of Westminster austerity, spending more of its budget on social care and Scotland’s NHS (roughly £100 per head) and the abolition of student fees. Where it has been a failure for Scotland is the fact that devolution within the UK comes with the continued failed economic mantra of Laissez-faire capitalism, the recent watering down of anti-casino-banking rules, political corruption and of course, being able to do nothing about the unmitigated disaster that Brexit represents. 

Devolution may have opened the door for the SNP to prove that they are able to run a country differently and with more soul and care for the people. Now that they are supported by the Greens in a majority Scottish Government, they have an unanswerable mandate for change and that is infuriating Wesminsters failing self appointed elites.  In 2017, when giving evidence to the Westminster trade Committee, I (GMK) explained that ‘Devolution was incompatible with Brexit’. I have been proven right many times over and now as both the Tories and Labour have lurched to the right to fight over the xenophobic Brexit vote the Union has become incompatible with Scotland, incompatible with democracy and incompatible with the values of the ordinary Scottish people.

Whether you like it or not, a majority Scottish Government has the mandated right to call an independence referendum; whether you like it or not, it has a mandated right to pass its Gender Recognition Reform legislation. Blocking these moves amounts to nothing more than an assault on democratic principles.  

Westminster enacted Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998, a previously unused mechanic which has been described by political commentators as the ‘nuclear option’. Section 35 allows the Scottish Secretary of the UK Government to intervene with the passing of a devolved bill if it is believed to adversely affect the operation of reserved matters, that is, areas outside the remit of the devolved government. Despite having years to make amendments and consult with the Scottish Government, the current Conservative Scottish Secretary Alister Jack instead used Section 35 to block the GRR Bill. Translated - essentially, the UK Government is blocking this bill because they don’t like it, which sets a dangerously antidemocratic precedent.

This ruling comes hard on the heels of the UK Supreme Court’s recent move to block a second Scottish independence referendum, as well as an extension to challenges to devolved legislation such as the Rights of the Child Convention. Today the UK Government will push ahead with its regressive Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill which will remove all the mostly eminently sensible EU-derived legislation from the statute book by the end of the year. It's almost as if they thought Brexit isn't going as well as it should because there were still too many protections for exporters and that the food and drink industry needed a harder Brexit.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the first use of Section 35 is to limit a bill which had caused division in both the pro-independence camps. It is a clear divide and rule tactic with Westminster hoping for a muted response due to the nature of the policy involved. Regardless, the bill was approved by two-thirds of MSPs gaining votes from five different political parties. This included the current leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Anas Sarwar and former leader Richard Leonard, as well as the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Jackson Carlaw.

This move sets a worrying precedent for how Westminster responds to bills passed by Holyrood in the future. We have to ask what else a UK Government which is politically opposed, hostile even, to the majority elected current Scottish Government might also move to restrict. This does not just undermine devolution but also threatens the tenets of Scottish democracy. 

Finally, regardless of anyone’s opinion of the GRR Bill, it is important to ask: will the UK Government really stop here? What happens if Wesminster blocks legislation on devolved healthcare? On education? On the environment? This ruling exposes a fundamental flaw of devolution as an expression of self-determination - one where it can be overridden when the central government feels like it, especially when they diverge from the devolved government. 

Until Scotland is fully independent, its political autonomy will always be under threat. New Labour are back: Starmer has moved the UK party to the right of Thatcher and is big into Brexit and refuses to defend the blocking of a bill that was supported by 18 out of his party’s 22 elected representatives in the Scottish Parliament. He offers no alternative even for voters of Labour in Scotland. Independence is normal and completely compatible with democracy and the clear desire of the Scottish people to rejoin the EU.

Scotland scunnered with rule by House of so-called “Lords”

A proposal that Scotland’s Secretary of State Alister Jack should postpone taking up his controversial peerage until the next general election in order to avoid a by-election in his marginal seat of Dumfries and Galloway is being condemned as an attempt to play the system, in a new scandal for the UK’s unelected Upper House.

Disgraced former PM Boris Johnson is handing out 20 more places in the “Lords”, which will take the number of sitting members above 800 (830 total). The House of  so-called “Lords”, the second-largest legislative chamber in the world behind the Chinese National People's Congress, is so undemocratic that it could potentially bar the UK from rejoining the EU in the future.

Johnson used his “resignation honours” list to nominate the former cabinet ministers Nadine Dorries, Nigel Adams and Alok Sharma, and Alister Jack, the Scotland secretary, to the “Lords” but arranged for them to defer taking their peerages until after the next election. The SNP.s Mhairi Black spoke for many Scots when she told Jack in a recent Commons debate “I won’t take lessons on democracy from a soon-to-be-unelected ‘Baron’.” A tweeted video of her comment went viral and was listed on Trendsmap as a top global tweet. 

Experts have warned that Jack and the other Ministers’ by-election avoidance plan could have wide-ranging constitutional implications. The Times reported that “Lord” Cormack, a Tory peer, said it showed a “cavalier disregard for the constitution”.

The new list includes former editor of the Daily Mail Paul Dacre, despite Dacre being blocked by the House of “Lords” Appointment Commission on a previous list, and David Ross, the multi-millionaire Carphone Warehouse founder who was forced to quit as a City Hall aide over a share-selling scandal.

Scotland diverges from House of so-called “Lords”

Scottish political life has diverged from the House of “Lords” in recent decades - not one single peer supports Scottish independence, for example. Scottish MPs from the SNP do not sit in the “Lords” - unlike those from the Unionist parties. There are 27 members of the Scottish Labour group in the unelected Upper House.

Members don’t get a salary but they claim an allowance of £323 plus expenses for each day they attend - about the same as Universal Credit pays per month for a single person. Last year the House of “Lords” cost almost £120 million - a population share of which is charged to Scotland’s accounts and fattens Scotland’s notional “deficit”.

“Lords” does not meet the “Copenhagen Criteria” for EU membership

In 2010, the then Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg described the House of “Lords” as a “democratic aberration” and said it could prevent the UK from joining the EU. Back then there were only 700 members.

Clegg said “It’s totally preposterous that we have a second chamber which is basically a plaything for political patronage – if that existed in other countries that were applying to the European Union, we would be saying ‘sorry you can’t have that because it doesn’t conform to European standards of democracy'”.

The criteria for countries joining the EU today are set out in the “Copenhagen criteria” and it is hard to see how a country ruled by the House of “Lords” could meet the bar. It states that:

“Functional democratic governance requires that all citizens of the country should be able to participate, on an equal basis, in the political decision making at every single governing level, from local municipalities up to the highest, national, level. This also requires free elections with a secret ballot.”

The half-reformed House of “Lords” put shadowy patronage in place of heredity

The House of so–called “Lords” has never been democratic but in recent years it has become more and more subject to the PM’s personal patronage, with little in the way of checks and balances. Since the 1999 Reform Act, when the Labour Party under Tony Blair abolished the rights of 600 hereditary peers to sit in the Upper House, new peers have been entirely appointed, largely by the head of the ruling party. (What was touted as a democratic reform was seen by some as a Labour power grab, as hereditary peers tended not to support Labour.) 

The advice of the appointments committee has been overruled by Boris Johnson more than once. He ennobled Evgeny Lebedev, who is bankrolled by his Russian oligarch father, Alexander; and Peter Cruddas who the “Lords” appointment committee said was not fit for office. Tory donor Malcolm Offord  was made a peer and appointed to the Scottish Office after failing to win an election in Scotland.  

The Labour Party’s plans to reform the House of so-called “Lords” are already facing push-back. Labour peer “Lord” Mandelson objected to them on the BBC’s flagship “the World this Weekend” and the current issue of Labour magazine Prospect carries an article by influential think-tank member Meg Russell arguing that tiny-footstep small-scale changes would be more realistic. 

An independent Scotland could get out from under the weight of the House of “Lords”

The Labour Party’s attempt to reform the House of “Lords” in 1999 actually left it worse than before - Boris Johnson has demonstrated how the leader of the ruling party can appoint peers without any democratic oversight. 

Members of the House of so-called “Lords” have the constitutional right to debate and amend laws affecting Scotland. The Scottish government does not. That is not fair, it is not democratic and it is also an expensive waste of taxpayers’ money. 

There will be no unelected second house in an independent Scotland. 

Lessons From the Edinburgh Agreement that Westminster Forgot

NEXT WEEK the Supreme Court will adjudicate on the Scottish Parliament’s right to hold an independence referendum. The case comes almost exactly ten years after the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement, setting out the basis for a referendum on Scottish independence. 

Prime Minister David Cameron and the then Scottish Secretary Michael Moore met First Minister Alex Salmond and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon at St Andrew House in Edinburgh on October 15 2012 for a ceremonial signing of the document.

A breezily-confident Cameron stood in front of the Edinburgh skyline on that sunny autumn afternoon and told the assembled press that he was showing respect for the Scottish people and their decision to vote for a party with a manifesto commitment to a referendum.

The backdrop was that SNP had won a landslide victory in 2011’s Scottish general election. In response, the Conservative/ Liberal UK government published a consultation on “Scotland's Constitutional Future”. Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wrote: 

"We will not stand in the way of a referendum on independence: the future of Scotland's place within the United Kingdom is for people in Scotland to vote on."

Here are three lessons for today’s situation from that historic event

1 Respecting the “Union of equals” was part of the UK’s case

Asked what he had got in return for giving Salmond control of both the date and who could vote in the poll, Cameron replied: "What we have is what I always wanted, which is one single question, not two questions, not devo max, a very simple single question that has to be put before the end of 2014, so we end the uncertainty.”

Ironically, Salmond and Sturgeon did not want a third question either. But saying they were prepared to accept one was part of their negotiations. Giving in gracefully was part of Cameron’s show of respect. (This however was revealed as sham when the day after the ‘No’ vote in 2014 he emerged from Downing Street to announce that Scottish MPs would henceforth be treated a second class, unable to vote on most domestic issues.*) 

Cameron’s view that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of equals, established by the Treaty of Union of 1707,  is in contrast with the “muscular unionism” of the current Conservative government, which regards itself as having the right to rule over the Scottish people and deny a referendum indefinitely. 

Many Unionist commentators fear that this approach is unlikely to be a winning strategy in the long term, and could push support for independence even higher than it currently sits. Writing in the Spectator recently, Alex Massie argued

“The nationalists would love few things better than a British government determined to in some strange sense 'put Scotland in its place'. Nothing could further or more fully demonstrate the SNP’s belief that Scotland and Britain are no longer compatible entities.”  

2 The Labour Party tried to hold back the tide for too long

The backdrop to that moment in 2012 had actually been five years of negotiation. After the SNP became the largest party in Holyrood in 2007, the Labour Party misjudged the reaction to blocking a referendum on Scottish independence. Feeling that Scotland was being denied rights that the Labour Party trumpet for countries all around the world only made the calls grow stronger. 

In 2008, on BBC Scotland's Politics Show, Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander declared: “Bring it on”. Later, she clarified her position, saying she supported a referendum on Scottish independence if it also had a question on more powers for Holyrood, and if it happened before the end of the year.

Alexander believed a ‘No” vote would damage the SNP and lead to Labour regaining power in Scotland. She was certain that the middle option of more powers would win the ballot. Even in 2008, it was obvious that the trend showed support for independence rising -  so there was little point in waiting. 

Scotland’s Unionist establishment, including the Conservative and Liberal Democrats, were furious. Alexander was immediately denounced for “misjudgment and political naivety”. Leaks - possibly from within the Labour party machine - led to claims that donations had not been properly declared. Alexander resigned just a month later. Kicking the can down the road by refusing a referendum did not make the issue go away. Instead it laid the way for the landslide victory for the SNP in 2011. 

3 The current democratic mandate is stronger than 2011

The SNP went into the May 2011 Scottish election with the top line on the manifesto being a promise to legislate for a referendum on independence. The balance of support was such that they took 53 constituency seats but they still were able to gain 16 additional members on the regional lists. The upshot was that the SNP ended up with an overall majority of 69 out of 129 members in a system that was designed to make that all but impossible. 

They had 45% of the vote in the first, constituency voted, and 44% in the second. At that time, the Scottish Green Party was not signed up to a manifesto commitment to a referendum on independence and they got just 2% of the second vote and two seats. 

In 2021, the SNP got almost 48% of the first vote and won 62 constituency seats, ten more than in 2011. They had 40% of the second vote and won two of those seats. The Scottish Greens, who had by this time moved to supporting independence, got 8% of the second vote and eight seats, giving the independence movement 70 seats in total. 

The democratic basis for a referendum is even stronger than in 2011. The change in material circumstances caused by Brexit, which was imposed on Scotland against its democratic will as expressed in the 2016 referendum is another strong argument for a referendum. 

The baseline support for independence is far higher now than it was in 2012. An Ipsos Mori poll that week showed support for independence running at 28%.

The UK government now argues that it does not recognise Holyrood’s right to call a referendum on Scottish independence. That could backfire and increase support for independence.


For both sides, October 15, 2012, was the beginning of a campaign for hearts and minds. The ceremonial signing was not really necessary; they wanted to take the opportunity to set out their positions to the waiting media.

Blocking a referendum after the Scottish people elected a government with an independence-supporting majority would have been likely to backfire.

Agreeing on a democratic arrangement set a precedent that should apply a decade later when the mandate is even stronger. Now the UK government has abandoned this commitment - how will it make a positive case for the Union? 

* That policy known as EVEL - English Votes for English Laws - has now been rescinded but it doesn't much matter now - it was a successful attack on Labour in Scotland. SNP MPs don't vote on purely English matters. 

Five Reasons Why Scotland Has the Legal Right to Self-Determination

The UK Supreme Court in London is considering whether Scotland can have a referendum on its constitutional future.  The case will be heard in the Supreme Court on 11-12 October 2022. 

This week, lawyers acting on behalf of the Scottish National Party submitted a written case as to why the Scottish Government has the legal right to call a vote.   Here are five key points it makes. 

1 Scotland is a country within the UK

Scotland has a long history as a separate country. The laws of the UK recognise the UK is made up of four countries. When King Charles III acceded to the throne he had to make separate declarations in regard to Scotland. The written submission says: 

“The Union With England Act 1707 refers expressly to ‘the two kingdoms of Scotland and England’....the 1707 Act makes express provision for Scotland’s separate legal, educational, and ecclesiastical systems to remain separate from those of England.” 

Many recent laws, including the Scotland Act 2016, recognise Scotland as a separate entity within the UK. This section of the legal response concludes there is ample legal proof that: 

“The people of Scotland are ‘a people’ for the purposes of the right to self-determination.”

2 In Scotland, the people are sovereign

The UK Government argues that it can decide whether or not Scotland is allowed to hold a referendum because it is ‘sovereign’ over the whole of the United Kingdom. Its lawyers argue that Westminster effectively holds all power to make law and only lends some to Holyrood. 

Scotland’s lawyers argue that this is an English idea; it does not respect the traditions of Scotland where sovereignty rests with the people.  It quotes a famous judgment by Lord President Cooper in MacCormick v Lord Advocate 1953:

‘The principle of the unlimited sovereignty of Parliament is a distinctively English principle which has no counterpart in Scottish constitutional law. It derives its origin from…considering that the Union legislation extinguished the Parliaments of Scotland and England, and replaced them by a new Parliament. I have difficulty in seeing why it should have been supposed that the new Parliament of Great Britain must inherit all the peculiar characteristics of the English Parliament but none of the Scottish Parliament, as if all that happened in 1707 was that Scottish representatives were admitted to the Parliament of England. That is not what was done.’

3 The UK has argued strongly for the inalienable right of self-determination of all peoples

The UK government has made strong representations to the UN to support “the inalienable right of self-dermination”. One example is over Kosovo, leaving union with Serbia. Another is the Falkland Islands. That archipelago was recognised as having the right to self-determination and chooses to be an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The UK called on other nations to support this right after the Falkland war.

The UK representative to the UN General Assembly in 1983 said: 

“The Committee has repeatedly declared its belief in the inalienable right of self-determination. Inalienable is a very strong word. It means birthright; it means you cannot get rid of it; it means that the Falklanders have a right of self-determination which no one can take from them. The United Kingdom shares that view.”

In 1984, the UK representative told the UN: 

“Self-determination is not a one-off exercise. It cannot be achieved for any people by one revolution or one election. It is a continuous process. It requires that peoples be given continuing opportunities to choose their governments and social systems, and to change them.”

The Scottish submission concludes that:  

“The United Kingdom’s position, therefore, at least on the international stage, appears to be clear in that ‘a people’ has an inalienable right to self-determination which cannot be taken away from them, and that ‘a people’ can exist within a state boundary.”

4  The Scottish Government has a mandate to deliver a referendum

The UK’s lawyers argue that a manifesto commitment is a matter of party politics and has no standing in law. But Scotland’s lawyers argue that the people have a right to expect their elected representatives to do what they said they would do. It says:

“A people is entitled to expect its government to seek to govern on the basis on which it sought to be elected. That is a fundamental principle of government and to find otherwise would wholly undermine the legitimacy of any executive branch of government and the trust of the public in government as a whole.”

When the SNP (and the Greens) fought the recent Scottish election:

“Holding a referendum on Scottish independence is, and was understood by the public to be, at the core of its policy offer and programme of government.” 

5 If the Supreme Court says no, it means Scotland has no effective right to self-determination

The UK argues that the issue of Scottish independence is a matter for the whole UK to decide and not for Scotland alone. But Scotland’s lawyers argue that self-determination can’t depend on what another country wants. It quotes a judgement by the Canadian Supreme Court which allowed Quebec to hold two referenda on independence. 

  “The Advocate General, in his written case to this court, has suggested … that the Union of Scotland and England is, ‘par excellence’, a UK-wide matter and that is why it might be reserved. The clear implication of that is that the Advocate General believes as a matter of law that, should Scotland wish to become an independent country but the remainder of the United Kingdom does not want that, the remainder of the United Kingdom should have the ability to prevent Scottish independence.

“A right to self-determination is not dependent or conditional on others agreeing with that decision. The right to self-determination of a people is exercised by that people and that people alone.”

It concludes that if the Supreme Court rejects the right of the Scottish Parliament to hold a referendum, it effectively will be saying that Scotland does not have the right to self-determination. 

“Of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, 59 are for Scottish constituencies. MPs from Scottish constituencies account for less than ten percent of the chamber. The UK leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties have indicated they will not countenance a further referendum on Scottish independence. There is accordingly no practical way in which the right to self-determination can be advanced through that legislature. If there is no way in which to exercise a right, it is no right at all: ubi jus ibi remedium.”


After the Scottish general election of May 2022, the Scottish Government published a draft bill for a referendum. That was passed by the Scottish Parliament. The Lord Advocate of Scotland submitted this to the Supreme Court rather than waiting for the UK Government to rule it out of order, which could have meant a long delay. 

The UK government originally tried to have the case thrown out, but it will now be heard. Scotland has a strong case for being allowed to hold a democratic referendum. 

Further reading

Read the written response on behalf of the Scottish National Party, of September 26  here

Read the Scottish Government’s original submission, of August 10 here

Scottish Water - a victory for the Scottish people v the UK Government

Why is Scottish Water still - largely - in public ownership while water companies in the rest of the UK are privatised? The answer is solidarity. The degree of opposition to privatisation was so widespread and so strong right across Scottish society that the UK Conservative government didn’t dare to do it.  Recently, Financial Times commentator Camilla Cavendish, in a piece entitled “Water privatisation was never going to work, recalled:

“In 1989, the sell-off [in England] was touted as the route to greater efficiency and investment. But between 2002 and 2018, Scottish Water, which remains publicly owned, invested on average nearly 35 percent more per household than English water companies, according to researchers at Greenwich University.”

Water was privatised in England under Margaret Thatcher. In 1994, the Conservative government under John Major geared up to do the same in Scotland. It was a period when demands for Scotland to have more control over its affairs were building. The plans to privatise Scottish water met a massive wall of opposition. 

Strathclyde Regional Authority decided to hold an advisory referendum to test the strength of feeling. They held a postal ballot. There was a huge turnout with  71.5 percent of electors in Strathclyde returning their papers. An extraordinary 97.2 percent wanted Scottish water to remain in public hands. No to privatisation votes numbered 1,194,667 - yes votes just 33,956

This referendum had no legal force at the time. The UK government still had the legal power to do what it wished with Scottish Water. At that time, Scotland didn’t even have a Parliament or a National Assembly. It was run by the Westminster “Grand Committee” on Scottish affairs which was regularly stuffed with English MPs from the shires because there were too few Scottish Conservatives to vote through the Government’s plans. 

The Westminster record of the time, Hansard, records MP for East Lothian John Home Robertson saying in a debate about the referendum:

“Frankly, the result did not surprise me. What surprised me was the massive turnout of electors. I am amazed that even this Government think that they can shrug it off. I have no doubt that the result would have been exactly the same if the question had been put to my constituents and those of my hon. Friends in the Lothian region.”

Home Robertson said almost nobody supported privatisation:

“The Secretary of State for Scotland prefaced his remarks by saying that we had to return to the issues of state in Scotland today and consider this controversial issue. I have news for the Secretary of State for Scotland: this is not a remotely controversial issue. It is one of very few issues about which it would be impossible to start an argument in the streets, households, pubs, clubs or anywhere else in Scotland today. There is no support anywhere in Scotland for the proposal to take the water and sewerage industries out of the control of democratically accountable local authorities”

Eventually, the local water authorities were merged to form Scottish Water, which is a publicly-owned water company subject to scrutiny by the Scottish government. WeOwnIt, a campaign to take English water back into public hands, writes in its mission statement:

“If you live in Scotland, your water is already run for people not profit - and you're paying less than the rest of us. The publicly owned company Scottish Water is the most trusted public utility in the UK. It is constantly investing, keeping customers happy and reducing its carbon footprint."

It quotes 'Jane, WeOwnIt supporter': 

"In Scotland, the water supply is still publicly funded-and long may it last. Compared to England and Wales, there are no glaring inefficiencies, no shareholders to mollify, no drive to force up charges. We pay the water charges with our council tax and it works!"  

We are seeing consternation in England at the behaviour of the water companies currently, with huge amounts of water being lost through leaks, and raw sewage being pumped into bathing water at beaches along the south coast. Last year, Jenny Jones told the House of Lords that Britain was fast returning to its pre-EU status as “the dirty man of Europe”. She was speaking at a debate about legislation to enshrine legal protections for beach quality post Brexit. EU law sets legal stanadards for clean beaches - but the UK doesn't have that now. The Conservative government rejected the protections. 

There are issues in parts of Scotland too - the River Almond has had effluent pumped into it - but upgrading work is in progress and it should be clean enough to swim in by 2024. In contrast, the Daily Telegraph reported last week that every single beach along the stretch known as the English riviera was polluted with sewage.  Water campaigner Feargal Sharkey tweeted:

“A No.10 "Spokesperson said since the industry was privatised in 1989, the equivalent of £5bn had been invested to upgrade water infrastructure.' Let me remind you during the same period Water Companies have paid out over £72bn to shareholders.”

Even the right-wing Spectator magazine recently published a front-page article entitled “Water Woes”, in which leader writer Ross Clark conceded that privatisation has failed to deliver the promised benefits:

“It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way when the water industry was privatised by the Thatcher government in 1989. It was promised that privately owned water companies would unleash a wave of investment, and that they would introduce competition, reduce consumer prices and make the industry more responsive to demand. It is hard to see how any of these objectives have been fulfilled. Nor, indeed, has the water industry become as private as critics feared. Thames Water, which services 15 million people, is still largely owned by public sector entities, just not entirely British ones. Among its largest shareholders are the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, the UK Universities Superannuation Scheme and sovereign wealth funds of China and Abu Dhabi. Almost 10 percent of Thames Water is owned by the Chinese government.”

Boost for Scottish independence from contest for next PM

Well-known Unionist commentator Alex Massie amusingly told Radio 4 yesterday:

“If you were to say to me that there will be a referendum in say 15 years' time, I would probably, if pushed, expect Scotland to vote for independence,”. 

Some might have been surprised to hear Massie concede that Scottish independence is likely, although they might query the timing (*). Ironically the tipping point where support for independence hits a consistent majority is being brought much closer by the current Conservative leadership contest, and independence support will increase regardless of whether Truss or Sunak gets the keys for number Ten. 

Tipping point approaching for Scottish independence

A poll released yesterday showed that around 20% of voters said that either Sunak or Truss as PM would boost their support for independence. Only 35% of voters said they were firmly opposed to independence and that would be unchanged by the contest. That's no surprise judging by their lacklustre hustings performances in Perth last night.

Candidates vie to undermine the devolution settlement

The candidates both made clear that they plan to continue Boris Johnson’s policy of deliberately undermining the devolution settlement and both tried in vain to hide their profound ignorance of Scotland, its culture, politics and history.  The debate was chaired by STV’s Colin Mackay who said it was:

“a scary job interview…but not as scary as a general election, which is how we used to choose our Prime Ministers”.

Sunak on bypassing the Scottish Government’s spending powers

Mackay asked Sunak if he would “by-pass Holyrood for some spending”. Sunak replied:

“We have already started that and we will do more of it.”

Sunak condemned several times what he called “the civil service policy” of “devolve and forget” when it comes to Scotland. That apparently refers to respecting the devolution settlement and allowing Holyrood to run the policy areas for which it is legally responsible. 

Liz Truss effectively said there is no democratic route for independence for Scotland

Truss said that the 2014 referendum was “a once in a generation” event. Mackay mentioned the seven-year gap mandated for Northern Irish referenda and that Brexit and Covid had changed the background. He asked:

“For many people outside this room, 2014 feels like a generation. Is there a democratic route for Scotland to change its future? Is there a democratic route?”

Truss replied:

“At the time of the referendum, it was agreed by the SNP that it was a once-in-a-generation referendum. I believe in politicians keeping their promises and Nicola Sturgeon should keep her promise.” 

Liz Truss changed her mind on Brexit - why can’t the Scots change their mind on independence?

Mackay asked this question and Truss replied that she had respected the will of the people to leave the EU. She said she had been worried about disruption. But, she said, in a barefaced lie that is contradicted by authorities such as the UK’s Office for National Statistics, and the experience of many exporters and importers in Scotland, that:

“There has been no disruption [from Brexit]”

Truss boasted of trade deals she has done with Australia and New Zealand that threaten Scottish food producers by giving away all protections for Scottish and UK farmers and food producers against lower welfare imports - in a manner reminscent of “the great betrayal’ of 1921.

Sunak sneered at Scottish state education

Rishi Sunak told the audience that education was one of his family’s core values - his parents sent him to an elite private school.  He then proceeded to sneer at Scottish state education. He failed to point out that Scots children from the poorest backgrounds are overwhelmingly more likely to attend University than those born south of the border. 

Truss plans to rip up ECHR - she may not know it is the bedrock of devolution

Liz Truss gave a particularly wooden presentation with odd pauses. She talked of the UK’s economic difficulties, without mentioning the part Brexit plays - until she moved on to the “opportunity” to rip up EU legal protections for human rights and the environment. Liz Truss may not know that the European Convention on Human Rights was devised by a Scottish lawyer and is the bedrock of the devolution settlement, representing what many once regarded as shared British values. 

Truss proclaimed her determination to get rid of ECHR because it might prevent the UK government from deporting asylum seekers to countries like Rwanda. She said she was determined to expand this controversial policy to include more refugees and more third countries. 

Truss displayed weak understanding of the causes of the energy crisis

On energy, Truss promised to get rid of the ‘green levy’ - this supports insulation and investment  in renewables. It is Scotland’s renewable energy providers who supply the cheap power the UK relies on - and they could supply even more of it if the sector had not been starved of adequate investment. Onshore wind is many times cheaper than gas. 

Yet Truss proclaimed “we have to use our gas” to solve the energy crisis. What could she mean by this? Gas extracted from the North Sea is the property of the multinationals who extract it. It is sold to the UK’s privatised national grid at world prices - currently the equivalent of oil being $380 a barrel. Extracting slightly more gas would not lower world gas prices - it would just make more money for energy companies. 

Sunak and Truss may not know that 75% of voters supported devolution in a referendum

Neither Sunak or Truss appear to know that there was a referendum in Scotland 25 years ago next month in which 75% of voters supported devolution. They also do not seem to know that, while in English law and tradition, sovereignty rests with the Westminster Parliament, in Scottish law it lies with the people, in a tradition established in 1320 with the Declaration of Arbroath. 

Scottish Unionists despair of this desperate duo

On that same BBC lunchtime bulletin yesterday, presenter Jonny Dymond commented in response to a clip of some of the pair’s blunders that:

“There must be some Scottish Tories who hear those comments from Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss and just want to jump off a cliff, aren’t  there?”


*Listen to Massie’s comment here - 29 minutes in, closing a report from the BBC Scotland editor James Cook. However, some would argue he is simply running the Tory trope of ‘Yes, you can have independence but not yet’. Pushing the referendum down the road is a desperate tactic - they hope the Yes movement will give up and go away, because they fear they would lose one now.

Can the UK still claim to be a democracy?

Q In which country can the leader be elected by party members, without a chance for the population to vote?

A The UK

Q Which governing body is packed with party donors, personal friends and even relatives appointed by the leader?

A The House of Lords

Q In which country can a disgraced leader, forced from office for lying, still appoint whoever he likes to Parliament?

A The UK

The United Kingdom defines itself as a democracy - and yet, under the current Government it has departed from many of the conventions of one person one vote. 

Only about 170,000 UK citizens - largely male and over 50 - will be eligible to vote for the next PM, out of an electorate of about 47.6 million adults. This sounds like a scenario we might associate with the Communist Party of China. And yet, we are supposed to accept this as democratic.  At the same time, the House of Lords has become increasingly unregulated, and there are concerns that Boris Johnson has plans to add even more peers - without scrutiny. 

Allowing a UK PM to be elected by party members is new 

The media is reporting what journalists call ‘every cough and spit’ of the leadership ‘election’ for the UK’s next Prime Minister. But, with rare exceptions, it does not question the extraordinary and undemocratic nature of the contest. The media presents this as a traditional approach. In fact, it is new. If it actually goes to a vote, this will be just the second time a PM has been elected by the party members, the first being Boris Johnson in 2019. 

In the past, the leader of the ruling party was selected by MPs. They themselves are elected and can thus claim some democratic legitimacy. They would select someone, often behind closed doors, and that person would formally offer to form a government. 

In 1998, William Hague changed the rules to include a vote by Conservative members. The Conservatives were out of power from 1997 to 2011. Since then, they have changed leader while in power twice. When Theresa May stood to be Prime Minister, her nearest rival Andrea Leadsom stood down so there was no actual members' vote. 

When the Labour Party changed leader from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown in 2007, Brown was endorsed by Labour MPs. The only time the Labour Party changed leaders in office with more than one candidate was when James Callaghan succeeded Harold Wilson in 1976 - Callaghan was selected by a ballot of MPs.

Tone of the contest illustrated by Liz Truss’ promise to ignore Scotland

Liz Truss won cheers from Tory voters at a husting by vowing to ignore Scotland, showing that the continued undermining of the devolution settlement will continue and worsen.  Policies like further limiting the right to strike, are guaranteed to win Conservative party votes and to ensure Truss becomes the next Prime Minister of the UK. But they are far removed from the electoral priorities of Scotland. 

The current contest for the votes of a tiny minority is filling the airwaves with discussion of very right-wing policies. The "Overton Window’  is a concept familiar to broadcasters. It means the range of ideas that is regarded as mainstream and acceptable. What we are seeing is the Overton Window of UK public life being pushed further to the right.

Lord Lebedev of Siberia has a pet wolf named Boris

Meanwhile, disgraced PM Boris Johnson is still the UK”s Prime Minister. On coming to power, he found himself in possession of a half-reformed House of Lords and proceeded to hand out dozens of titles - it will be more than 100 by the time he leaves office. He has ennobled among others: his brother Jo; a Conservative donor called Peter Cruddas who the Lords committee said was not fit to hold public office; and Evgeny Lebedev, whose entry into London society was financed by his father, KGB officer Alexander Lebedev.  Lebedev, who named his pet wolf Boris, is now  Baron Lebedev, of Hampton and Siberia. The UK government while talking tough over Ukraine, has dragged its feet on sanctioning Russia. Lebedev has more right under the UK Consitution to debate and amend laws affecting Scotland than Nicola Sturgeon has. 

The House of Lords has never been democratic but in recent years it has been made subject to the PM’s personal patronage, with little in the way of checks and balances. With the 1999 Reform Act, the Labour Party under Tony Blair abolished the rights of 600 hereditary peers to sit in the Upper House, What was touted as a democratic reform was seen by some as a political move to enable Blair to create more Labour Peers. It left a baggy, over-sized Lords blowing in the political wind, with no effective regulation in place.  At around 800, the House of Lords is almost the largest governing body in the world, second only to the Chinese People’s Congress.

Boris Johnson may be poised to appoint dozens more peers

The Guardian reported recently on a draft plan by which Johnson will add 39 to 50 new Tory peers when he finally leaves office. Former PM Gordon Brown revealed he had seen an extraordinary document which includes a requirement that each new peer sign away their right to make their own judgment on legislation that comes before them. They have to give, the paper says, a written undertaking to attend and vote with the Government.

The draft plan recommends Johnson to appoint political nominees who will vote for the Tory government, especially its bill to disown the international treaty it has itself signed over Northern Ireland.


The UK prides itself on being democratic, with Westminster often described as the mother of all parliaments (despite The Althing of Iceland being by far the oldest). But it has turned out that there were few checks and balances to prevent abuse of power. The current contest for the UK”s highest elected office, accepted as normal by a supine and ineffective media, is absurd and undemocratic. 

Only with independence can Scotland escape the dangerous charade of the UK’s failing democracy. 

Media Watch - Scotland’s mainstream media ignores the downside of dodgy trade deals

July 27, 2022

“I have negotiated dozens of trade deals”, candidate for PM Liz Truss said in a debate on BBC TV this week. 

Since Brexit, the UK has rolled over existing EU deals covering 63 countries. It is not true to say that Truss negotiated these - they were already in place,  negotiated by the EU, and have simply been allowed to continue after Brexit. So far, Truss has negotiated a handful of trade deals. These are potentially very bad for Scotland - but that is not being reported fairly. 

The UK government is offering open access to Scottish markets for intensive, low-welfare farmers, echoing ‘The Great Betrayal’" of the 1920s, which decimated Scottish agriculture. They have signed these deals on Scotland's behalf without consent or consultation with Scotland's elected representatives. 

Promises over “safeguards” for Scottish farmers have been broken - with no scrutiny

Instead, over the last year, BBC Scotland and other Unionist media outlets have given space to vague promises that there will be safeguards for Scottish producers.  But these safeguards have not materialised and that is being brushed under the carpet without scrutiny. 

Truss trade deals - four not dozens

Liz Truss’ government has so far negotiated just four new trade deals, covering six countries. These are with Japan, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, Australia and New Zealand. But there are fears these are the gateway to the UK Government signing more destructive and desperate deals. 

Deals with New Zealand and Australia threaten Scottish food producers

Trade deals with New Zealand and Australia will see quotas for tariff-free lamb and other produce increased sharply over the next 15 years before it becomes a tariff-free, quota-free free for all. Because Australia and New Zealand don't work to the same standards on climate, environment and welfare and because they farm more intensively that allows them to potentially undercut Scottish farmers. While the idea of cheap imports may seem attractive in the short term, in the long term it threatens to damage the Scottish food-producing sector, food security and the wider economy. 

There was anger in the House of Commons last week when the UK Government forbade Parliament from discussing the terms of the Australian trade deal before it is ratified -  despite an earlier promise by Liz Truss that it would face Parliamentary scrutiny. 

Scottish MP Drew Hendry said the Government’s own research showed that Australia’s lower standards on deforestation, animal welfare and climate lets it produce cheaper food that will undercut Scottish produce. 

The Scottish Farmer said the deal “offers nothing but pain” for Scotland’s farmers and crofters. Scottish NFU president Martin Kennedy said: “Our fears that the process adopted by the UK Government in agreeing the Australia deal would set a dangerous precedent going forward have been realised…

“This latest deal offers virtually nothing to Scottish farmers and crofters in return but risks undermining our valuable lamb, beef, dairy and horticultural sectors by granting access to large volumes of imported goods. As with the Australian deal, a cap on tariff-free imports is merely a slow journey to allow NZ, a major exporter of food and drink, unfettered access to food and drink UK markets."

But Scottish food producers’ woes are not being reported by the mainstream UK media. 

A clip of New Zealand TV contrasted the reaction of “jubilant Kiwi farmers” with the despair of those facing unfair competition from producers meeting lower environmental and welfare standards has been widely shared on social media. 

People find it hard to believe that the NZ media is offering more coverage of the downside of the deal than the UK. It said: “The deal will see Kiwi meat imported without tariffs, and UK farmers say they get nothing in return. They fear it will change their businesses dramatically.’ UK farmers told the news show that they feel as if they are the “sacrificial lambs” of the deal. 

Sustainable business advisor Brendan May commented: “New Zealand television is completely mystified by the amazing Brexit trade deal Liz Truss keeps boasting about. They can’t understand why she would want to make British farmers poorer and theirs richer. Even the winning side can’t fathom it.”

The deals echo ‘the great betrayal” of the 1920s which decimated Scottish agriculture

Those with a knowledge of Scottish history will remember “the great betrayal” of 1921 when the UK Government abandoned support for agriculture and fishing - believing it could be replaced by cheap imports from the Empire. In the following decade, food production collapsed and Scotland lost 8% of its population (compared to 5% in England) due to emigration by desperate people, many of whom simply abandoned their crofts and farms.

Scottish agriculture is already a big loser from Brexit -  it is gradually losing EU funding from the Common Agricultural Policy, which moves some of the cost of food production from the consumer to the tax payer. The UK’s replacement scheme will be far less generous. The loss of easy access to EU markets, and the end of free movement of labour is also damaging Scotland’s food producers. 

The Scottish Government has criticised the UK Government’s level of engagement with the devolved governments. There has been no consultation on the negotiation process, nor on the crucial detail about tariffs and goods market access on any of the deals which the UK government has negotiated.

Unlike Quebec, which is able to scrutinise and ratify Canada’s international trade deals, Scotland has no voice. The Internal Markets Act means the UK government can make any deal it likes in Scotland’s name, without consultation or consent. 

Scotland is being let down by the media which is failing to report both sides of the story

The media is supposed to serve the people - but Scotland’s Unionist media is failing to report on the people who are being harmed by these trade deals, to scrutinise politicians’ promises, or to consider the potential for long-term harm to Scotland's interests.