THE news that the Tory UK Government is planning on paying billions of pounds to ensure that London’s money markets keep access to the EU’s single market is in complete contrast to their attitude to Scotland.

We know that the UK economy is going to be hammered by leaving the EU, already we have seen the value of the pound plummet, inflation is rising and we haven’t even reached the full impact of Brexit yet.

In Scotland an estimated 80,000 jobs are under threat and already we’ve seen councils and other public bodies starting to plan for life without EU funding. In my own area of Renfrewshire, the local council is expecting to lose more than £2.5 million in EU grants that has already been factored into projects to support local jobs and tackle poverty. These projects will now need to find other funding or be drastically scaled back. You only have to look at a wide range of public-sector projects to see the EU flag displayed on boards next to roads, schools etc indicating the funding the EU has provided to turn these projects from dreams into a reality. There is no sign that the UK Government is going to replace this vital funding, just as there is no sign it will deliver on the promises of the Brexit campaign that leaving the EU would result in £350 million per week extra for the NHS.

Loading article content

Recognising the impact of Brexit on the Scottish economy, the SNP Scottish Government has been looking at all the options available to give Scotland the best chance of dealing with the impact of Brexit. This includes examining options that could keep Scotland as part of the EU, to ensure that those jobs which rely on access to the EU single market of around 500 million consumers are not harmed by the rush to Brexit.

Apparently the Prime Minister has also given assurances to the Nissan car plant in the north of England that their trading conditions would remain unchanged post Brexit.

So why no support for Scotland? Why no talks with our First Minister to provide assurances that Scotland’s interests will also be protected? The UK Government is happy to take our taxes and use them to fund a special post-Brexit deal not only for London’s finance markets but also for a car factory in Sunderland. Surely Scotland should also have some support, especially when you consider that a majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU?

Instead of words of comfort and support, we get the usual Tory rhetoric when it comes to Scotland. We simply don’t matter to them. With only one sole Tory MP returned from Scotland, our country isn’t on the Prime Minister’s radar. According to the Tories we will just have to accept any deal they give us.

That’s why we should be grateful that the Scottish Government is doing everything it can to protect Scotland’s interests. They have appointed a minister to deal with the implications of Brexit, looking for opportunities to protect and enhance Scotland’s status within the EU, to ensure that the economic fallout from Brexit is limited as much as possible.

However, the only real protection Scotland can have is if we are in sole charge of our destiny. We can’t rely on a UK Government to support us – as indicated, they are more concerned with the city of London than they are about Scotland.

That is why this week’s publication of the draft Referendum Bill is so important. We need to fully consider the option of a new indyref to ensure that our voice is heard. It’s no surprise that I and the many Yes voters from 2014 support this move, but I’m now hearing more former No voters also moving to this position. After all, the promises of the Better Together campaign lie in tatters and the position we now find ourselves in – being dragged out of the EU – means we are not in the same position as we were in 2014.

I would encourage everyone to have a good look at the draft Referendum Bill and contribute to the consultation. We need to ensure that it reflects the aspirations of the people of Scotland. This legislation may be our only hope to avoid the economic storm of Brexit.