SCOTLAND AND FRUITCAKE. MY SPEECH ON THE UK’S EXIT FROM EUROPE
Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP):In the few minutes available to me, I want to confine my remarks to amendment (b). When the history books are written and we come to the chapter that describes and explains the UK’s exit from the EU, this week will go down as an important and significant week. After this week, the UK’s departure from the EU becomes almost unstoppable.
The UK, already a surly, sulky, semi-detached member of the EU, always available to offer some withering criticism to one of its few remaining allies within the EU, already halfway out of the exit door, is like some sort of staggering drunk looking for the oblivion of last orders, on its way out chanting, “We are the famous United Kingdom. No one likes us. We don’t care.” That is the reality of the UK within the EU. Its exasperated, declining number of allies in the EU do not know whether to boo, cheer or sing hasta la vista, such is the state and condition of the UK’s membership of EU.
It is clear that the UK is on its way out. It will either be out on the basis of the salami-slicing favoured by the Prime Minister—let us renegotiate a new terms of entry, which will obviously be rejected by most of its European allies—or, more likely, it will be wrenched out following the yes/no referendum plan by the Government, in a sort of in-your-face Barroso gesture from the UK electorate. What we actually have is an irresistible momentum for the UK to be taken out of the EU.
Of course, the EU was not even mentioned in the Queen’s Speech—that now appears to be an unfortunate oversight—but it is centre stage, because we are entering a new Session of Parliament, the UKIP session. It is the age of Farageism, a desperate creed characterised by an obsession with departure from the EU and with immigrants. It is an unpleasant, intolerant, neoliberal creed with a disdain and hearty contempt for minorities. That is what will underpin this Session of Parliament, because the Government know that UKIP will win the next European election.
That is not my country and I do not want it. I want my country out of all that. My country is very different.
The reason UKIP does not do well in Scotland, and the reason there is the lone panda of one Conservative Member in the Scottish Parliament, is that that agenda simply does not chime with the collectivism and the social attitudes and values of Scotland. That is why UKIP got less than 1% of the vote in the most recent Scottish parliamentary elections. I am proud that my country is so different from the one we observe south of the border. I hope that England and the rest of the United Kingdom do not go down that road, but they are entitled to have the Government they vote for, just as my nation is entitled to the Government we vote for.
There is now the real prospect of a party whose members the Prime Minister refers to as fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists having a share in the running of the United Kingdom.
What will the Government do to ensure that does not happen? They have tried to name-call and disparage, but that has not really worked, given UKIP’s success in the local elections. They could try to buy UKIP off, but that would not work either. They are absolutely stuffed. My advice to the Government is that they had been doing all right and should have stuck with the hoodie-hugging and huskie-mushing new Conservatism. They simply could never out-UKIP UKIP, which is the master of European obsession and grievance. They should stick to their guns and ensure that they are different from UKIP.
It used to be said that Scottish independence would lead to Scotland being taken out of the European Union. Not many people are saying that now.
Henry Smith: Does the hon. Gentleman think that an independent Scotland would have to join the euro, or does he want to keep the British pound?
Pete Wishart: The hon. Gentleman is not on particularly steady ground when it comes to the debate on Scottish membership of the European Union. To answer his question, we will not be joining the euro but instead will follow Sweden’s example.
The Scottish people are observing two futures. In one future they remain shackled to the United Kingdom, which will become increasingly shackled to an intolerant, right-wing agenda.
The hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Nadine Dorries) has already said that she will have a joint UKIP-Conservative candidacy at the next election. I do not know how many more Conservative Members will adopt that stance. What we are seeing is a realignment of the right. All I have heard from the 1922 committee, which has not been very pleasant recently, with all the disagreements about Europe, is that there is a faultline running through the Government. The Scottish people have a choice: they could have that future, or they could have their own future, determined by them and based on their values.
Keith Hopkins: The hon. Gentleman is making the case that Euroscepticism is an entirely right-wing view. In fact, across Europe the majority of Euroscepticism is on the left, among socialists, trade unionists and working-class people.
Pete Wishart: That might be true, but that is not how it is being demonstrated politically.
What we have observed is a total realignment. There are two different countries, and one is emerging south of the border with increasing UKIP results. It is absolutely certain that UKIP will win the next European election, and Conservative Members should be very careful about all that. They are right to be wary, because it could deprive them of office. I do not know what will happen, but Scotland has a choice—thank goodness—to do something different. We can remain shackled to an increasingly right-wing United Kingdom, almost relaxed about its continuing decline, or we can decide to have a future of our own, a future determined by the Scottish people, based on our social values and the type of community we want to develop and grow. We can choose to be a consensual and helpful friend in Europe, rather than one that likes to criticise, is semi-detached, does not really enjoy being there and is on its way out. Thank goodness we have that choice.
I know the type of future that my fellow countrymen and women will choose. They will opt to ensure that their future is in their hands. They will determine the type of Scotland they want: a Scotland standing proud in a coalition of nations around the world. That is the country I want and I am absolutely certain that that is what my fellow Scots will choose next year.
(N. B. Red highlighting is mine, and reflects my view of its importance. and is not in Pete’s original Wordpress text.)