Scotland 'may not get independence if SNP win' says Blair
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Ian Murray, Labour’s Shadow Scotland Secretary, made his remarks after comments by Mrs Sturgeon yesterday. Commenting on how Scotland would trade with its neighbours – including the UK – in the event of going it alone, Mrs Sturgeon told the Irish Times: “In terms of goods and services, if we are an independent country within the European Union, of course we have to comply with the rules and regulations.
“But what we’ve got to understand is that Brexit has created border issues, and our businesses right now are paying the price for that.
“What we’ve got to decide is how best we arrange all of these things for maximum advantage.”
She added: “The Northern Ireland Protocol, if there are easements there, yes, I think that does offer some template.
“But we work in a proper planned way to make sure that any rules that have to be applied are applied in a way that absolutely minimises any practical difficulties for businesses trading across the England-Scotland border.
“But the benefit of doing that is that we again open up free trade across the whole of the European Union, the world’s biggest single market.
“Brexit had all been about narrowing Scotland’s horizons, in a trading sense but also in terms of people.
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“Independence is about opening up those horizons again and seeing Scotland firmly as a country playing its full part in Europe and the world.”
Discussing the possibility of Scotland rejoining the EU – with its bloc-wide freedom of movement arrangements – she added: “There is nobody with any credibility anywhere that suggests that Scotland would not continue to be in the Common Travel Area.
“Even the scaremongers about independence so far haven’t tried to use that argument.”
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The First Minister’s comments simply beggar belief
“And for people in Scotland that’s a real win-win because we’d retain that freedom of movement across the Common Travel Area but regain freedom of movement across the whole of the European Union.
“And so we’d be in the same position as the Republic of Ireland, which I think would be a really good position to be in.”
However, Mrs Sturgeon was given short shrift by Mr Murray, MP for Edinburgh South and Labour’s only member north of the border.
He said: “The First Minister’s comments simply beggar belief and demonstrate the bizarre positions that Nicola Sturgeon is forced to adopt in a vain attempt to mask the economic threat caused by Scottish separation.
“With our economy already threatened by Brexit, the idea that we jump out of the frying pan and into the fire by leaving the UK is completely contrary to the interests of the people of Scotland.
“What the First Minister is proposing would lead to customs checks for goods entering and leaving Scotland – this would be a disaster for our economy.”
Mr Murray added: “It seems that the First Minister is not a keen observer of Northern Irish politics and has an almost Faragesque relationship with reality.
“It’s high time that the First Minister remembered that she has a duty to protect the Scottish economy and ditches the nationalist posturing.
“Only by using both your votes for Scottish Labour can you ensure that we have an opposition that forces the SNP to keep its eye on the ball and focus on the day job.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Northern Ireland Alistair Carmichael said: “The polite term for this would be delusional. The Northern Ireland protocol was hastily cobbled together and badly thought out. Already we are seeing the devastating consequences of that decision.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s border plan would separate families and devastate trade. She is singing from the Brexiteer songbook.
“The SNP’s civic nationalism is fraying at the edges and their true colours are coming through. Scotland needs a government focused on helping the economy recover from the pandemic, not one whose idea of boosting employment is more border guards.”
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