Embargoed: 00:01 Sunday 22 January 2017

Attn: Newsdesks and Political Correspondents

SALMOND – PARTNERSHIP OF EQUALS CLAIM “DEMOLISHED” BY TORIES

HARD BREXIT PLANS “SYSTEMATICALLY DESTROYING” IDEA THAT SCOTLAND’S VOICE IN UK COUNTS

SNP Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alex Salmond today (Sunday) warned that the Conservative Government’s hard-line approach to Brexit is undermining the entire basis of Scottish devolution.
 
Mr Salmond said the Tory Government seems intent on “systematically destroying” their own boast that Scotland is an equal partner in the UK.
 
Alex Salmond said:

“The Tory Government now seems to believe it can do anything to Scotland – no matter how damaging to jobs and living standards – and get away with it.
 
“The clock is ticking, and time is running out, for the Conservatives to demonstrate for real that Scotland is what they claim it to be - an equal partner in the United Kingdom.
“The Scottish Parliament was reconvened in 1999 in large part to stop Westminster governments imposing damaging decisions on Scotland against the will of the people who live here.
 
“It was set up to ensure the democratic views of the people were not overridden and that we could get on with the job of building a better county and stronger economy.
 
“But the actions of the Tory Government since the Brexit vote show the real limits the devolved Parliament faces in protecting Scotland from damaging Westminster decisions.
 
“And they have demolished their own boast that Scotland is an equal partner in the UK.
 
“I am deeply concerned about three things in particular:
 
“Firstly, the UK Government appears to be stringing Scotland, and other devolved governments, along in the Joint Ministerial Committee process.
 
“Last week Theresa May unilaterally announced her Brexit plans, including the economic disaster of leaving the European Single Market, with no agreement from the Scottish Government or the other devolved administrations.  
 
“She lectured other EU countries on the need to respect the diversity of European nations while demanding Scotland simply falls into line here. 
 
“Secondly, the UK Government in its submission to the Article 50 Supreme Court case claimed that it ultimately had the right to legislate on any matter, whether devolved or not – regardless of the views of Scotland’s democratically elected Parliament. 
 
“The arrogant dismissal by the Tories to the Scottish Parliament’s repeated support for staying in the Single Market, shows they are more than willing to exercise that power and over-ride democratic votes in Holyrood. 
 
“And thirdly, the Prime Minister threatened a race to the bottom in terms of tax, rights and regulations if the UK did not get its way in its negotiations with the EU. Such a course of action would clearly have a huge and damaging impact on Scotland  and profoundly change the nature of our country. But this announcement was made with no reference to, or concern, for Scotland or the Scottish Parliament."

Mr Salmond added:

“The Brexiteer hard right-wing of the Tory Party is now in the driving seat at Westminster. They are undermining the very principles that lay behind devolution and are making it clear that, when push comes to shove, they will decide and that Scotland’s voice does not matter.
 
“Last week the Scottish Parliament clearly endorsed, by a large margin and on a cross-party basis, the Scottish Government’s attempt to keep Scotland in the European Single Market. The UK Government, and the Prime Minister herself, have given a commitment to explore that objective.
 
“But time is running out for the Tory Government to demonstrate that they are in any way serious about Scotland being an equal partner in the UK.
 
“As things stand they are systematically destroying their own notion of the Union as a proper partnership as well as ripping to shreds the promises made to the people of Scotland about the status and powers of the Scottish Parliament during and after the 2014 independence referendum.
"It will be for the Scottish Parliament and people to respond to this new reality of hard Tory Brexit"

ENDS