The EU referendum, its possible implications and what happens to Scotland in the middle of all of this has been the biggest part of communications I have received since the decision was taken.
I campaigned for a Remain vote and I am desperately sorry that we lost. I'm gutted that the rights, privileges and benefits of EU citizenship are to be denied to all of the young people growing up in Scotland today.
The First Minister and the Scottish Government have acted decisively amidst all the mess and they are working hard to secure Scotland's future in Europe.I take hope from the way in which Nicola Sturgeon has led on the issue, how she has got down to work and started looking for the best deal for Scotland out of all of this. When politicians in both camps in London were sitting in stunned silence wondering what to do next she was working and I'm glad that the Scottish Parliament endorsed her on a cross-party basis and gave her the additional mandate she needs to negotiate on Scotland's behalf. You can read more about their work, and the options being considered, on the Scottish Government website: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Options-to-protect-Scotland-in-EU-276e.aspx
As for the UK Government, the key players in the debate all jumped ship shortly after the decision, leaving us heading for the rocks without anyone at the helm. The decision to hold a referendum was taken with a reckless lack of planning for one of only two possible outcomes. There's no clarity on policies, no reassurances for citizens, no strategy and no vision of what a post-Brexit UK will be.
I have been doing what I can to raise some of the less prominent issues around the referendum and asking questions about what the UK Government is and was doing, and I'll continue to do so because there are important issues to be addressed, from protecting the rights of EU nationals to protecting our natural habitats through the EU Nature Directives. You can see my parliamentary questions to the 'department for exiting the EU' here: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers/?page=1&max=20&questiontype=AllQuestions&house=commons&member=4417
One useful source for facts is the House of Commons Library's research on the subject. It has answers to many of the questions that people are asking - http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/eu-referendum/ - and the part on what happens next is particularly useful.
Despite my disappointment at the UK result, I cannot agree that we should ignore it and hold another referendum. I think it's important to note that the UK Government can take the UK out of the EU without bringing the issue to Parliament at all. Even if it did bring a vote on the issue in the House of Commons it wouldn't matter at all if Article 50 had already been initiated - that starts a clock on which there is no stop button and will result in a UK exit from the EU in two years. Some people have been suggesting that the European Communities Act 1972 will have to be repealed for the UK to leave the EU but this is not accurate. The Act, as it currently stands, merely imports EU law into UK domestic law and it can remain or be repealed at any time without affecting the UK's membership (or otherwise) of the EU.
I know that there are arguments being put forward that the Royal Prerogative would be an inappropriate tool in this instance but it would seem that the result of the referendum gives full weight to the Government of the day using the prerogative in this instance.
I cannot support the holding of a second referendum without a material change in circumstances. I think that the European Union Referendum Act 2015 was fairly clear in its intent and in what the effects of a vote to leave would be.
I'll continue to press for answers at Westminster and work to protect our existing rights.
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