Monday, 19 March 2018 09:29

“SCOTLAND CAN BE A BRIDGE BETWEEN EUROPE AND THE UK” – STEPHEN GETHINS

SNP EUROPE SPOKESPERSON TO DELIVER KEYNOTE SPEECH ON BREXIT

The SNP's Europe spokesperson, Stephen Gethins MP, will today say Scotland can “act as a bridge between Europe and the UK”, in a keynote speech on Brexit.

The MP for North East Fife will be speaking at the "Brexit: Should I Stay or Should I Go?" event at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London.

The conference will consist of talks and debates about the impact of Brexit on the UK and the economy, and will include speeches from leading politicians, campaigners, business leaders, and economists. 

Commenting ahead of the speech, Stephen Gethins MP said: 

"Scotland has a long tradition of being an outward-looking European nation. 

"Our ancient universities were heavily influenced by Dutch experiences, whilst our historic trading links with Europe brought considerable benefits to all sides. 

"In modern times EU membership, the benefits of the single market and customs union, and access to learning across our academic institutions have built on our historic traditions. 

"For Scotland, for the people of Scotland, our Parliament, and our Government there is a clearly expressed desire to retain that connection with the single market and the customs union. We can use this expression as a way of creating opportunities for Scotland to become a bridge between Europe and the UK.

“The debate surrounding Scotland and the UK's future relationship with our EU neighbours is at a crucial crossroads.

"In just 10 days’ time, we will be exactly one year away from when the UK will leave the EU. Time is running out, and that is why it is right and proper that parliamentarians at Westminster, as well as the devolved administrations, continue to scrutinise the UK government’s Brexit plans. That is our duty to our constituents regardless of party or constitutional affiliation.

"Regardless of one’s views - Leave or Remain - there must be a recognition that we have to re-build our relationship with the rest of Europe. The future looks very different to the way it looked two years ago, relationships will need mending, and a new way to work together developed.

“This will be important at a Governmental level but also for our businesses, academic institutions and others, whose closest working relationships will continue to be with our partners in the European Union.

“However, we need political will. Just as the SNP Scottish Government has been working with Whitehall to get the best possible deal for these negotiations, the UK government must also recognise that Scotland can help play a crucial role in building that new bridge and relationship with the EU.

“During my time speaking with politicians and other influencers and stakeholders in the EU, it has been striking just how many recognise Scotland in its own right. There is an even greater recognition that Scotland voted to remain and has a distinctive voice in this debate. 

“We should use that recognition to benefit everyone in the UK and Europe. And it is not just down to parliamentarians to play their part in forging this new path. It is down to each and every one of us, including our world class universities, leading industries, and innovative businesses, who must also reach out and work with our EU neighbours.

“Scotland has a long history of political, commercial and cultural engagement with our partners in Europe. That continues today through those business, academic and even political links. Scotland can be at the forefront of reconstructing those relationships and so benefit from the unique position that we hold, even if we don’t like how we arrived here. 

"Scotland is well placed to act as a bridge between the UK and the rest of Europe, regardless of our future constitutional status, and regardless of the final outcome of the negotiations. The work to build that bridge starts now.”

SNP Europe spokesperson, Stephen Gethins MP, is due to deliver a keynote speech, followed by a Q&A, at 2.25pm Monday 19 March, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

Details of the "Brexit: Should I Stay or Should I Go?" conference: https://brexitshouldistayorshouldigo.com/programme/

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