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Analysis

The SNP manifesto: Scotland in Europe?

by Nick Kent | 30.05.2017

The SNP is under pressure in this election. Having won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in the 2015, there is little for it to gain and much it could lose. The relatively poor performance of Scotland’s schools and budget shortfalls in the NHS have raised questions about the party’s stewardship of public services. Despite its belief in independence, a majority of Scots reject a second independence referendum. And while it claims to speak for the remain-voting majority in Scotland on Brexit, a quarter of its own voters supported leave.  

In the face of these challenges, it’s no wonder that pollsters suggest the SNP will lose seats on June 8. But even if it loses a dozen seats, it will still be Scotland’s largest party – at both Westminster and Holyrood. Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon is an impressive politician, who speaks with authority. The Scottish Labour Party, once the dominant force in Scotland’s politics, is still reeling from its near wipe-out in 2015. The Scottish Conservatives have found a new energy but even if they take seven or eight seats, they are a long way from threatening the SNP’s dominance.

How should you vote?

So what the SNP says about Brexit and the EU matters. And it would matter even more if the Conservative lead slips further and there is a hung parliament. The SNP have also linked the Brexit negotiations to the holding of a second independence referendum, a vote that could lead to the break-up of the UK.

Saying that up to 80,000 jobs in Scotland could be at risk if the country leaves the EU’s Single Market, the SNP’s manifesto re-affirms its belief that Scotland should be able to stay in the single market after Brexit. The manifesto acknowledges that Theresa May has rejected that idea but says that Scotland should be separately represented in the negotiations.  

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The party says that it wants a referendum on independence “at the end of the Brexit process”. After doubts about its position, the SNP says it will argue that an independent Scotland should be in the EU. Despite Scotland doing more trade with the rest of the UK than the EU, the SNP claims that there would be no conflict between Scotland being in the EU single market but not part of the UK market.  

Finally, the party wants powers over farming, fisheries and the environment repatriated from Brussels after Brexit to be devolved. The SNP shares the belief of Labour and the Lib Dems that EU citizens in the UK should be guaranteed the right to stay.

If the Conservatives win with a large majority, the policies of the SNP on Brexit will matter less. But in a hung parliament Sturgeon has indicated her willingness to be part of a “progressive alliance” against the Tories at Westminster.  While Jeremy Corbyn has explicitly rejected this, the attraction of becoming prime minister may cause him to change his mind.  

The SNP maybe under pressure but their political influence matters, on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

2 Responses to “The SNP manifesto: Scotland in Europe?”

  • I am rather irritated that you seem to be ignoring issues and concerns of those of us in Northern Ireland/Ireland

  • Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have been virtually ignored by patronising government ministers. Personally, I believe that the people of Northern Ireland should join with the Republic of Ireland and so remain part of the EU. Britain, or what is left of it, is going to become increasingly isolated and irrelevant.