Building fresh case for independence is vital, insists SNP depute leader Keith Brown

Keith Brown, depute leader of the SNP (Paul Chappells)
Keith Brown, depute leader of the SNP (Paul Chappells)

BUILDING a fresh case for Scottish independence is “more vital than ever” as the UK’s departure from the European Union draws closer, the SNP depute leader has said.

Keith Brown spoke out as activists gathered in Aviemore for a special national assembly to discuss a recent paper on the economic case for leaving the UK.

While Scots voted against independence in 2014 the country voted to stay in the EU two years later, but the majority of voters across the UK backed Brexit.

Mr Brown said: “A fresh case for independence is more vital than ever and that is what we are working on at the national assemblies, and with wider engagement enabling members of our party direct input and people from across the Yes movement and civic Scotland a say too.”

The Sustainable Growth Commission, set up by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to look at the economic case for leaving the UK, concluded that living standards in Scotland could “equal the best small countries in the world” within a generation of independence.

But opponents said plans to cut Scotland’s deficit to less than 3% meant it was “really a cuts commission”.

However Mr Brown said: “The publication of the growth commission report, coupled with an increased level of grassroots activity in communities up and down the country, has shown Scotland’s future is full of opportunity.

“People are rightly interested in having their say as the SNP builds the fresh case for the ‘why’ of independence.

“Scotland is already a wealthy nation with huge resources, strengths in innovation, world class universities, hi-tech sectors and unrivalled energy potential.

“But despite those enormous strengths, similar-sized nations have performed better over decades – all of them independent and most of them with fewer resources than Scotland.”

He added: “No one voted in 2014 for Scotland to be dragged out of the European Union against our will.

“No one voted in 2014 for Scotland to be poorer, for our public services to suffer, or for our businesses and people to be cut off from their customers and friends in Europe. This is what the UK Government’s no deal Brexit threatens.

“Only independence will enable the people of Scotland to build a fairer, more prosperous country which reaches its full potential on the global stage.”

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader, Lesley Laird MP, said: “The SNP say that they stand up for Scotland but how is cutting the number of teachers, underfunding our NHS and increasing child poverty standing up for Scotland? It’s no surprise that the SNP want to keep talking about referendums and not their record in government.

“The change that the people of Scotland need is not another independence referendum which will create more division, it is a radical Labour government at Holyrood and Westminster redistributing power and wealth to working people.”