Tommy Sheppard

MP for Edinburgh East

Leave a light on for Scotland

EU

Dear fellow Europeans 

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. The UK is leaving the European Union later tonight. I’ve resisted it every step of the way but now it is really happening. Please know that this is not what the people who live in this great city want. Boris Johnson does not act in our name. We are being dragged out of Europe against our will. And we are determined that this will not be the end of the matter.

I’m sorry for the way they told lies about you. They said you would ban straight bananas and some believed them. They said we couldn’t support our industry because of your rules and, even though other countries supported theirs, some believed them. They said your attempts to improve the standards of our air and water were an unacceptable interference in our lives and some believed them.

They said that making working conditions safer and stopping people working long hours were the actions of a nanny super state. Some believed them. Most of all they said that the UK had no sovereign right to decide whether to go along with these things - even when people were exercising that right. They said that working together with other countries meant being told what to do by them. 

I’m sorry for the way you were made a scapegoat for everything that was wrong in everyone’s life. When people think about it rationally they know that the answer to inadequate public services is to spend more money on them - it was just easier to blame you.

Most of all I’m sorry for the way you have been made to feel unwelcome in many parts of the UK. I know some of you who have made your lives here, raised families, worked hard, paid taxes. Now you are being made to register with no guarantee that you will have the same rights in the future.

I’m sorry for us too. We will lose the right to move around Europe to study, work or fall in love. It’ll be harder and more expensive to visit friends or go on holiday. 

Our industry will have a harder time selling abroad. We will be poorer as a result. Not overnight. Not dramatically. Just a long slow squeeze on our living standards. One day we’ll realise that we are a lot poorer than people like us in Europe and a lot worse off than we might have been.

I’m sorry about it all.

But this isn’t over. This may be the end of the decision on Brexit but it’s only the start of the debate about what we do about it. I’m more convinced than ever that Scotland ought to become a politically independent country. I know some fear that will cut us off from others. But it’s exactly the opposite. It means having the power to work with others. I want the power of independence not only to make things better here but to build links with others - especially in Britain and Europe. 

More and more people in Scotland are looking at independence with fresh eyes. One future is to become a peripheral region in an increasingly isolated UK. Another is to build our own bridges and be part of the bigger world. Whatever you think, we ought to have the right to choose. The last referendum did not resolve anything and so much has changed since 2014. In this new decade we deserve to take a new choice.

Three times now the electorate in Scotland have voted for a majority of representatives who want another referendum. It’s not going away. And every time Boris Johnson ignores or denies the Scottish mandate he only fuels the appetite for change.

Soon we will get the chance to make these decisions for ourselves. And if we take it we will be able to restore links with you. So please, my fellow Europeans, leave a light on so that Scotland can find its way back.

Written for Edinburgh Evening News - 31st January 2020

 

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
31 January 2020
Media
Tommys Blog
Dear fellow Europeans I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. The UK is leaving the European Union later tonight. I’ve resisted it every step of the way but now it is really happening. Please know that this is not what the people who live in this great city want. Boris Johnson does not act in our name. We are being dragged out of Europe against our will. And we are determined that this will not be the end of the...
Tommy Sheppard
29 January 2020
Tommys Blog
With everything that goes on at Westminster it can be very easy to get caught up in the day to day minutiae of debates and votes. Sometimes we need a reminder of the bigger picture. I got that last week when I met with one of my constituents, Gica, who spent time volunteering in Samos last year.Gica volunteered with refugees and the situation she described is appalling. And worsening. The refugee ...
Tommy Sheppard
23 January 2020
Tommys Blog
Media
This week Politico reported that Number Ten are set to launch a pro-union offensive north of the border. Last week leadership contender Lisa Nandy provoked fierce criticism by saying Labour should learn from Spain’s attempts to defeat Catalan independence campaigners.Both approaches from different parts of the British political mainstream have in common a denial of the express views of voters in S...
Tommy Sheppard
03 January 2020
Tommys Blog
Media
Is it just me or does last month’s election already seem a long time ago? That last week in parliament was a pretty turgid affair. Self-congratulation by the tea-room Tories was matched by remorse and recrimination as Labour losers cleared lockers and desks. And then it was Christmas. There was no settling of the dust, no clarity on what the election results actually meant.That starts now. Not for...
Tommy Sheppard
13 September 2019
Tommys Blog
Media
At two minutes past ten on Wednesday morning I was sitting in court number one just behind St Giles on the Royal Mile. A minute later Lord Carloway announced the unanimous decision by the appeal court judges that the British government had acted illegally in proroguing parliament.  There was an audible intake of breath as the decision hit.I was pleased to join my colleague Joanna Cherry QC, and ot...