Dugdale: “The Tories have put the future of the UK in danger at every turn”

FireShot Screen Capture #124 - 'First minister's EU Brexit statement - BBC News' - www_bbc_co_uk_news_live_uk-scotland-scotland-politics-366395The full text of Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale’s speech in today’s EU debate in the Scottish Parliament.


Presiding Officer, we live in uncertain times. The social, political and economic order has been turned upside down. It will take many months and years for us to fully grasp the consequences.

But we’ve already seen the collapse in the pound. The fall in the value of companies. Businesses uncertain about future investment. Those whose jobs rely on our access to the EU single market worry what the future holds.

Let me echo what others have said in their message to EU migrants living and working in Scotland. They contribute not just to our economy, but to the society and culture we’ve built together. So let me say to the 180,000 EU migrants that live in Scotland, on behalf of these benches, you are welcome here. 20% of them live here in Edinburgh, a city I have the great honour of representing in this Parliament.

74% here voted to remain, one of the highest results in the whole of the United Kingdom. But I know that there are people in this great city, that despite the support from their neighbours, now feel ill at ease. People who have built their lives here are now feeling unsettled and anxious. So whilst we fight for their rights and against the rise of racism, we must also continue to show them love and understanding.

We must also understand however that there were a million Scots who voted to leave the European Union.

The leave campaign contained some of the worst dog whistle racism and xenophobia I’ve heard in my life. Dog whistles that turned to foghorns whenever Nigel Farage spoke or unveiled a poster. But that does not make every leave voter a xenophobe or a right-winger.

There are working class communities here in Edinburgh and Glasgow, just as there are in Sunderland and Sheffield, who feel powerless and are angry at the establishment. I was at the Glasgow count, I saw boxes in the First Ministers own constituency split 50/50. Here in Edinburgh in the seat I sought to represent, the poorest communities in Niddrie wanted out.

This result, even in Scotland is not as a straightforward as some have sought to pretend. All of us in this chamber have a duty to better understand that, and to listen and act upon what we hear.

But we did not vote in communities, constituencies, towns or even as nations. We voted as one country – the United Kingdom. A country that we as Scots reaffirmed our commitment to just 18 months ago. Millions of Scots want to be part of both unions and that’s why it’s so important that we give the First Minister our support to do everything she can to secure Scotland’s place in the European Union.

So the Labour Party will support the government’s efforts to not only mitigate the worst of Brexit, but to strengthen Scotland’s ties with our European neighbours and allies. The priority must be securing jobs and the rights of workers. And all options for protecting Scotland’s place in the single market must be explored, including a federalised United Kingdom which could see those nations of the UK who voted to remain, retain their membership or achieve associated status.

The Labour Party stands ready to offer assistance where we can to the government, but that support is not unconditional. This Parliament will soon go in to recess and not return for 2 months. It used to be said a week was a long time in politics. A day in British politics just now feels like a lifetime, in that context, 2 months is an eternity. A recall of parliament can’t be ruled out.

So the First Minister may leave this chamber with the faith of these benches to speak to Europe in the best interests of securing Scotland’s future in both the EU and the UK. But that faith can only be maintained by regular communication, involvement and briefings from the government to opposition parties. A faith maintained by a continued understanding that as First Minister, she travels to Europe with a duty to represent Scots that voted both Yes and No, Scots that voted both remain and to leave.

But that faith would be betrayed if the First Minister tries to present our support for this motion as support for a second independence referendum.

On that basis we cannot support the Tory amendment because it removes support for the Government to speak to EU Institutions and member states regarding Scotland’s future. The last line of the Tory motion also says this:

“believes that the challenges of leaving the EU are not addressed by leaving the UK, Scotland’s own union of nations, biggest market and closest friends.”

So let me warn Ruth Davidson that she had better not dare to suggest that Labour’s failure to back her motion is somehow a failure to back the United Kingdom.

I struggle to put into words the anger I feel towards her party at the moment. An anger that’s been building since David Cameron announced English Votes for English laws within minutes of the Scottish Independence Referendum result.

An anger that grew when her party set Scottish voters against English voters in a hugely divisive and disingenuous 2015 campaign.

Anger at a party that forced this EU referendum on a country that did not want it, only to resolve an ego contest in the Tory party. And a Tory campaign in last month’s election that told the nation that all that mattered was whether you were a unionist or a nationalist.

A campaign that had no vision for Scotland whatsoever and boiled down to just two key messages: 1) “You can only trust the Tories to protect the union” – how is that going now Ruth? and 2) That the Tories would offer a “strong opposition”; yet all that they stand opposed to today is giving the First Minister some support to speak to EU institutions about our future.

The Tories have put the future of the UK in danger at every turn and it’s high time they shouldered responsibility for that.

Presiding Officer, the priority of these benches is to focus on the jobs and the economy and make the best of a very bad situation and we’ll support the Government tonight to do just that.

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24 thoughts on “Dugdale: “The Tories have put the future of the UK in danger at every turn”

  1. Aye very good – Still irrelevant though and there is only one party to blame for that – The Labour Party itself

    1. Ruth,
      Now is not is not the time for recrimination. Please, they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23.43)

  2. Ms Dugdale needs to recognise that the chances of remaining in the EU and the UK both are vanishingly small. She needs to find her courage and prepare for reality. It is all very well to give staying in both a try. I am sure the FM will, but then that doesn’t happen, Ms Dugdale will at last have to decide just where her loyalty lies. I believe the Bible says: “No man can serve two masters…” I true verse if there ever was one.

  3. kez you and your party supported tories ,yous were the ones who stood on platforms with them and told us the only way to stay in europe was tae vote naw,even now at this late stage there is a chance for you to redeem yourselves,the Scottish people have been waiting on yous for a long time.Get up aff your knees and listen tae the people ,stand up for Scotland again and i think many of us would give yous another hearing

    1. Erchie,
      You are dead right.
      Now is the time and now is the hour tae put the country before all else. Kezia and Labour should throw everything behind Nicola. These are desperate times. The next few days will shape Scotland and Europe for generations.

      In Scotland.

  4. It’s a good speech from Kezia, and we need to explore all options, but it avoids the big question. There may be no way for Scots to retain their EU citizenship and rights unless we become a nation state.

    If that is the choice, then we have to decide what type of country we want to be.
    If the choice is between an outwards looking Scotland in Europe that embraces all peoples and minorities, or an minor region in a UK that is turning to the far right, then it’s a definite YES from me and from many of my friends and family who voted No last time.

  5. Well said, Kezia. A good speech, no ifs, no butd. I agree that it is important to explore all options and the person who can do that is the First Minister. Therefore it makes sense to support her initiative. The situation of the UK at present is the closest thing to a national emergwncy i’ve experienced in my lifetime. Therefore it calls for xross-party cooperation and urgent action in any way that will help.

  6. I notice the BBC has fully joined in the Blairite rebellion in its usual party politically partial manner.
    How much airtime have they given Corbyn supporters relative to Blairites?

    It goes to prove the battle is between the Tory establishment of the UK and the social democrats.

  7. What a welcome change from Ms Dugdale . Directing her wrath at the common enemy she was effective and sincere. Ms Davidson was obviously livid at being dissected so effectively. I am an SNP member, but Ms Dugdale’s performance struck a chord on how effective we could be working together on the problems we share.

  8. Kezia,,
    Ditch the speech writers. They dont here come to praise you. They come to bury you.
    Best regards,
    Richard MacKinnon

  9. This is utterly hopeless.She could save the Labour party in Scotland by no longer looking south at the tories.What does it take for Labour to relise what they are doing. Stop the right wing nonsense. Kezia would rather see Boris in charge in London than herself in charge in Scotland.

    1. Genuinely baffled by this comment. What part of her taking on the Tories in this speech are you objecting to, exactly?

      1. I actually enjoyed her speech and for the first time believed she spoke genuinely from the heart.
        That was a woman who felt betrayal. Seems Labour had to learn the same lessons the Lib Dems learned the hard way that you cant get into bed with Tories without No meaning Yes.

        1. What a reprehensible comment Mike. I already had a low opinion of you but that is just disgusting.

  10. So we go for independence and then tie ourselves to the European unelected masters who are making a right arse of European economies look at Greece. Then in the first referendum the SNP stated we would keep the pound but now if we get let into or stay in the EU they are going to adopt the Euro, well in the last two votes i voted in favour of the Nats but no more and i think the majority of Scots when faced with the Euto will dump the Nats too

    1. No Wullie we put ourselves into a position where we can decide for ourselves as a Nation whether we want in or out and not have that decision taken from us by another larger Nation.

      Whats so objectionable about that?

    2. It is not the case that we have to accept the euro if we stay in the EU. But in reality, the pound doesn’t look to good a bet either now. And do you really think staying in the UK will protect the NHS? Really??? As independent in Europe, the way is always open to do a Brexit ourselves later if we want to, and we would not need the permission of Europe to do so, in the way that currently Westminster thinks that it can control whether or not Scotland can decide on independence. But I for one am not prepared to give up on Scotland’s interests, and will vote for independence whatever way it comes. But well done, Kezia.

  11. I was truly worried about the EU bringing in TTIP until I realised that the EU would water TTIP down while a Westminster Tory Government would bring it in anyway without watering any of it down at all.

  12. Any talk of Scotland becoming a member of the EU is moonshine Scotland has to be an independent country and then apply to join the EU. Kezia and Scottish Labour Party has to make a decision do they support Scotland’s independence and eventual membership of the EU or do the stay with Great Britian and the United Kingdom and Brexit. As for the SNP MEP degrading Scotland by begging what a joke and utter humiliation as Donald Tusk won’t even meet with Nicola Sturgeon so she can take the power heels off and stop any idea go whizzing around Brussels on a jolly. The EU would not do any favours for Scotland as it would set a precedent for Catalonia and other small states in Eastern Europe seeking their own independence and membership of the EU so it will not happen, any of the countries seeking EU membership would have to go through a countries new application to join the EU so all of the political parties in Scotland are deluded if they think otherwise.

    1. Eh Ted there are ongoing negotiations specifically to determine exactly what Scotlands status within the EU is and will be so nobody can say with surety for example

      “Any talk of Scotland becoming a member of the EU is moonshine Scotland has to be an independent country and then apply to join the EU”

      So don’t, you’re not commenting from any position of credibility.

      I believe the EU will inform Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland can only stay in the EU if it votes to become Independent. I bet most people believes that’s the most likely legal and legitimate scenario and outcome.

      I truly believe we are heading for Indyref 2 and the campaign will begin with the Yes side ahead in support and the No campaign still with no positive case to make and now with no way to build a negative one either.

      May we all live in interesting times.

      1. Scottish SNP robot begging has come to nothing the EU Commision and the Spanish member of the EU Commision has said No to Scotland joining the EU as Scotland will just have to go with UK Brexit tough luck.

  13. I’ve voted SNP at the last few elections (in fact, reviewing my voting history I don’t think I’ve ever voted Labour) but that was a barnstormer of a speech.

    It was everything you could want, passionate but controlled. Informative but concise. Clear and easy to understand. Honest.

    Prior to the speech I did not know what Scottish Labour’s position was. Now I do. I understand the extent and qualifications of Labour’s support for the First Minister, I understand their priorities.

    And, what an absolute kicking she gave Davidson, the closing sections of the speech were a career ender for Ruth Davidson. There is no comeback possible.

  14. If you wont vote with us, we will vote without you, and against you
    An independent Scottish Labour party which would serve all who ask, isnt that something worth fighting for.

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