Former prime minister Gordon Brown has called for a more federal model of government in Britain as a patriotic, third way alternative to the SNP breaking up the United Kingdom and seeking readmission to the European Union (EU).
Addressing the Festival of Ideas in Kirkalcdy, Fife, the former prime minister called for Scotland to be given control over £800m in funding currently administered by the EU, as well as the devolution of powers over energy, farming and other areas, which are currently centralised in Brussels.
“The third option, a patriotic Scottish way and free from the absolutism of the SNP and the do-nothingism of the Tories, is now essential because post-Brexit realities make the status quo redundant and require us to break with the past,” he told his audience.
“The status quo has been overtaken by events because unless powers now with the European Union are repatriated from Brussels to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the regions, Whitehall will have perpetrated one of the biggest power grabs by further centralising power, employment and energy.
“The patriotic way means that Scotland is not caught between a die-hard conservatism that denies the Scottish Parliament the powers it needs and a hard-line nationalism that throws away the resources we secure from being part of the [British] Union.”
— Jamie Greene MSP (@jamiegreeneUK) March 13, 2017
The former premier also emphasised the potentially dire economic consequences of Scotland exiting the British single market in order to pursue membership of the much less significant European single market, without any guarantees that this would not end up being vetoed by Spain or otherwise failing in any case.
“In 2014 when we fought the referendum the proposal from the Nationalists was that Scotland would leave the United Kingdom, but it would stay part of the British single market,” he recalled.
“Right throughout that referendum when people argued that they wouldn’t join the European Union, that it would take time do, they said no, they would be part of the European Union, and therefore they would be part of the European single market, and they would be part of the British single market as a result of that.
“So in 2014 you were being told they would leave the United Kingdom under independence proposals, but we would still be part of the British single market.
“That has changed entirely.
“If we leave the United Kingdom now, as Scotland, we are also leaving the British single market.
“The SNP have got to face up to the fact that because England is no longer part of the European single market, and we are taking independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, then this British single market is no longer one that Scotland would be part of.
“That is the consequence of independence now. That is a more extreme and hardline position, to exit the British single market as well as the United Kingdom.
“And why is it so important? Because there are a million Scottish jobs that are linked to membership of the British single market. Whether they’re in whisky or shipbuilding or in transport or retail or in public administration or in financial services, there are a million jobs.
— BBC Question Time (@bbcquestiontime) February 16, 2017
“65 per cent of our trade is with the rest of Britain. Only 15 per cent is with the European Union.
“And there are 3,000 companies exporting and importing from England; only a thousand exporting and importing from Europe.
“So if we leave the British single market, which was not the proposal in 2014 of the Scottish National Party, then a more dramatic set of consequences follow.”