Brexit has been branded a “disaster” by Scotland’s Constitution Secretary as he claimed a vote for the SNP in May’s elections would be a “step towards normality”.
Leaving the EU has hurt food exporters, fishermen, financial services and students, Mike Russell said in a statement to Holyrood, as he pushed for a return to the bloc if Scotland secured independence.
In the early weeks of 2021, immediately after the end of the transition period, lorry drivers exporting across the Channel were held up at ports in the south of England for days as customs issues were resolved.
“The only way back is to choose independence, like virtually all the other normal small countries in Europe have done,” Mr Russell told MSPs.
“So post-pandemic, we will redouble our efforts to secure that goal, which will allow us to rebuild our economy and our society in the way we wish, not the way we are told to by a Tory UK Government that is the author of this terrible continuing and indeed worsening Brexit mess.
“We can make our next significant step towards normality on the 6th of May.”
The SNP has said a pro-independence majority in this year’s Holyrood elections would be a mandate for another referendum on leaving the UK and it has published a road map to independence which includes holding a referendum regardless of UK Government approval, effectively daring them to challenge it in court.
Mr Russell added: “We never voted for even the softest of Brexits, which was of course the promise five years ago.
“What we ended up with was the hardest of Brexits, recklessly pursued at the very depths of the pandemic. That was bound to be a disaster, and it has been.
“It is therefore significant that polling today not only shows that Scotland, if asked again, would vote to remain by the same huge margin but also confirms that Scotland emphatically wants to rejoin.”
Mr Russell was challenged by Scottish Tory constitution spokesman Dean Lockhart on a new report from the London School of Economics (LSE) released on Wednesday, which said independence would hit Scotland harder than Brexit.
Mr Russell said the report relied on Scotland “not changing a single policy” after it became independent, adding: “I’m grateful for the input, I always consider it seriously, but I have reservations about it and have expressed them in a reasoned and reasonable way.”
Scottish Labour constitution spokesman Anas Sarwar told Mr Russell he could not “selectively quote” the LSE when he agreed with them and “ridicule” them when he did not.
“Him and I will have quoted the London School of Economics on Brexit. He was willing to accept their opinion on Brexit but not on independence,” he said.
“We cannot pick and choose.”
The Constitution Secretary rejected the idea that he was being selective with LSE research, saying: “Surely as rational human beings, we should read a report and come to a conclusion as to what we agree with and what we don’t agree with?
“We may agree with one report, we may disagree with another report.”
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