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Monday, January 30, 2023

Lesley Riddoch in call for Scots to join major Brexit protest

SPEAKERS for a Brexit Day rally are urging Scots to show up to remind “ourselves and the world” that Scotland’s democracy is being “eroded” by Westminster. 

The call for Yes supporters to gather again at Holyrood in a fortnight comes as think tanks reveal the post-Brexit UK economy is facing a shortfall of 300,000 workers after axing the free movement of people with the EU.

Broadcaster and co-organiser of the action Lesley Riddoch told The National that it is “a measure of Britain’s brokenness that Scots will likely be the only people on the streets on January 31 highlighting the multiple harms of Brexit”.

She added: “Basically, it’s the same situation for Yessers as Supreme Court Verdict Day in November. When Scotland’s in the news, we must be on the streets to show that we still care.”

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“We’re delighted French public TV is coming to film and trust Scottish, UK and other foreign broadcasters will do the same.

Alyn Smith MP – recently appointed Europe and EU Accession spokesperson in the SNP’s new frontbench team – was previously an MEP and pleaded with colleagues to “leave a light on” in his final contribution to the chamber in Brussels in 2019.

At the time he said: “I am asking you to leave a light on so we can find our way home.”

MEPs responded by holding a vigil with lights – which has inspired January’s “Lights On” event theme.

The National: Green and European Freedom Alliance MEPs hold a candlelit vigil for Scots
Green and European Freedom Alliance MEPs hold a candlelit vigil for Scots (Image: PA)

Three years later and according to the Lights On speaker, “Brexit remains the elephant in the room” in UK politics, which neither the Tories or Labour Party “dare question”.

Smith added: “It’s the elephant crushing the UK economy, exacerbating the meltdown of health systems, tearing the foundations from our economy and wrecking the future prospects for an entire generation of young people across these islands.

“It doesn’t have to be like this. Scotland has a route back into the European family of nations – independence.”

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No longer represented in the European Parliament, Scotland continues to receive support from MEPs. On Tuesday, the European Free Alliance called on the UK Government to respect the mandate afforded to the Scottish Parliament and Scotland’s devolution settlement.

The European party made the move following news that the UK Government will block a law agreed upon by the Scottish Parliament.

Jim Fairlie – former sheep farmer and current SNP MSP – plans to highlight the damage already done to Scotland’s shellfish and fishing industries on January 31, as well as the difficulties now facing Scottish farmers as the UK trade deal with New Zealand lets lamb imports flood the market.

Fairlie urged Yessers to show up since Westminster is not.

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He said: “Westminster refuses to cooperate with the clear mandate for a referendum which would let Scotland determine its own relationship with European neighbours.

“We must mark this day as a reminder to ourselves and the world, that democracy in Scotland is being eroded and denied by unionist parties of all colours.”

Other speakers at the rally include Janina Jetter, a German citizen and co-founder of Europe for Scotland, and Portuguese-born Edinburgh Councillor Marta Mattos-Coelho.

There will be musicians performing at Holyrood and pipers – plus prizes for the best-lit banners. Christmas lights have been recommended.

The National: Activists at HolyroodActivists at Holyrood (Image: PA)

Riddoch said: “The Time for Scotland message is simple – it’s for Scotland to decide the issue of EU membership – no-one else.

“And although we’ve been cut out of the European family by a Brexit we rejected, Scots will always value and celebrate cultural and social ties with European neighbours – we are not Little Scotlanders.”

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