Ballantyne Blasts SNP Border Policy

Thursday August 27th 2020


The Scottish border on A1 North

Written by Midlothian View Editor, Phil Bowen

Speaking in a Representing Border interview this week, former Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights, Alex Neil, stated that the SNP’s policy of an independent Scotland within the EU would lead to a customs border with England.

When asked if the official SNP policy that Scotland should be an independent country and a member of the EU meant that there would be a “serious and significant border” between Scotland and England, Neil stated:

“My argument is: there would be. You’ve got to be honest about these matters. If Scotland was in a customs union, i.e. the EU, and the rest of the UK was out of the customs union then, by definition, there are going to be customs barriers at the border between Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

Neil then went on to say that he did not believe that people would vote for that proposal in another independence referendum and instead touted the idea of an independent Scotland within the European Free Trade Association.

South Scotland regional MSP Michelle Ballantyne commented:

“It’s not often that I find myself agreeing with senior figures within the SNP, but Alex Neil has hit the nail on the head here. He’s made it clear that the SNP know that their goal of an independent Scotland within the EU will lead to a hard border with England.

“This would have a disastrous impact on the South Scotland economy which relies heavily on unrestricted movement across the border and would also have a dramatic social impact, with borderers finding themselves cut off from friends and family who live mere miles away.

“Over 60% of Scotland’s exports go to the UK and in a post-COVID economy we will be relying on that stable trade more than ever before. It beggars belief that the SNP are continuing with their foolhardy politics of division at a time when Scotland is benefitting daily from the economic power of the union through the furlough scheme and similar measures.

“The SNP have now made it obvious that a vote for independence is a vote for a hard border at Gretna and Berwick.”

Midlothian’s MP Owen Thompson, SNP, said:

“The SNP wants Scotland to join the family of European nations to avoid the creation of barriers, not to build them – it’s for the Tories to answer for the problems they are causing with their ill-thought out Brexit, forced on the people of Scotland against their democratic will. While they are at it, can they explain why the UK Government are adamant there will be no need for a hard EU border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, yet insist there will be one between Scotland and England?

“The only people causing restrictions to our free movement and wasting time and money on borders are the Tory Brexiteers. It’s astonishing that they will have blown 8.1billion on Brexit preparations by the end of this year, while refusing to follow the lead of Germany and extend the support needed to keep thousands of businesses afloat during this ongoing Covid emergency. Their priorities are all wrong, they are not the priorities of the people of Scotland and it’s time we were able to make our own decisions.

“Independence in Europe would keep us in a market of 450 million people, protect jobs and standards and enable us to trade not just with the Tory little Britain but across the continent. The Scottish Government could make decisions in the best interests of all the people who live here, from wherever they came, and take action which boosts our economy and our environment, instead of working for the vested interests of the Conservatives and their cronies.”

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