Willie Rennie

After a mere two and a half years, despite promises of the Referendum being a ‘once-in-generation’ event, the SNP and Greens are backing another divisive Independence Referendum. Willie Rennie and the Scottish Liberal Democrats are opposing this and instead is arguing in favour of a Federal solution.

During the debate in the Scottish Parliament today, Willie Rennie had argued the following:

I want to address the issue of this cast iron mandate. For the SNP their mandate for another referendum is based on the European Union. But now the SNP tell us they will not seek or guarantee membership of the European Union with their referendum.

They will use the EU to get a referendum even though their referendum won’t get the EU. And we know the reason why. They are cynically courting the one in three independence supporters who backed Brexit. So they will use pro Europeans to get a referendum but sell them out to win independence. It is low politics for narrow gain.

And then we have the Greens. It seems like from a different time but we recall their budget triumph where they secured funds that were going to be spent anyway and not a penny for the environment. Far from being a bold green budget it was a bland shade of beige. That was the first broken promise this year.

Now we have the verbal gymnastics of Patrick Harvie arguing that manifesto commitments don’t count anymore. What happened to this participative democracy? What happened to the million names of a petition? Where is the role of the people in deciding whether to have another referendum? Patrick Harvie’s idea of participative democracy is a few green members gathering on a wet Saturday afternoon in Perth to airbrush a manifesto commitment.

In just three months two manifesto commitments blown out of the water. The Scottish people will remember Patrick Harvie and his excuses.

Alex Salmond said the referendum in 2014 was a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the weekend he denied he ever said it. Despite it being on the record. We have it on YouTube. Then he denied he denied it despite that being on YouTube too. Then he dismissed the whole this as nonsense anyway. It was the fastest denial about a denial about a broken promise ever known.

‘How long is forever?’ said Alice. ‘Sometimes, just one second,’ said the White Rabbit. ‘Time is a relative concept, especially in Wonderland.’ Or, indeed, in Scotland.

The Liberal Democrats stated clearly in our manifesto that we would oppose another divisive independence referendum and that is exactly what we will do.

We have made great progress on reforming our United Kingdom. In just 20 years, we have created this Parliament, which is based on proportional representation and has been built on the foundations of human rights. It has gained more powers, including—most recently—powers over tax. We should be proud of what we have achieved together, through everybody in the Parliament working together.

I want to create a federal United Kingdom with power that is shared across the country, a written constitution, fair votes and an elected second chamber. Such reforms are on the way to making our United Kingdom even stronger. The campaign for independence undermines that chance and that momentum.

There is a positive case for the United Kingdom. The economic case for the UK is even stronger than it was in 2014, but it is not just about numbers on a spreadsheet; it is about the values that we share. It is about the compassion that has built some of the best charities in the world, such as Oxfam and Save the Children—British charities that are spreading compassion around the world. It is about the compassion that has built the second-biggest aid budget in the world—SNP members do not like that. It is about the compassion that has built one of the best health services in the world.