IndyRef2: Susanna Reid grills Ian Blackford
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Former Prime Minister Theresa May, alongside Lord Hague and Michael Gove, has highlighted how the UK is better together ahead of the Conservative party conference. In a landmark collection of essays, titled the ‘Strength of the Union’, the politicians argue why the Government is right to fight to keep the UK together.
Mrs May claimed the SNP is “singularly focused” on “separating Scotland from its historic and social hinterland”.
In her essay, the former UK Prime Minister warned Scottish independence would be an “irrevocable change” and a step into an “uncertain future”.
She claimed a recent surge in support for Scottish independence was based on identity and a desire for “greater respect and recognition”.
Mrs May also said Unionists should be showing Scottish nationalist supporters the benefits of being part of the Union.
She added: “We should be showing them the benefits of being part of the Union.
“We in England certainly should not wag our fingers at Scotland and tell people there that they could not exist without us.
“We should recognise that while Scotland’s economy is stronger for being part of the UK, so England needs the other parts of the UK.
“We may talk about Global Britain, but where would England be on the world stage without the rest of the UK?”
Lord Hague, meanwhile, claimed a break-up of the UK due to Scottish independence “will be a godsend to our enemies”.
The former Foreign Secretary said the UK’s position on the world stage would drastically change if Scotland were to leave the Union.
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He added: “The loss of territory and population, and the impact on our economy, would be met with delight by autocratic regimes who would relish the diminished power of our country to do good globally.”
Finally, in a foreword for the collection, Levelling Up Minister Michael Gove made clear the UK was “a family of nations, and a nation of families”.
Mr Gove added: “The relationships that have stood us in good stead for generations have also equipped us very well for the future.
“We should celebrate our vision of a prosperous, progressive and dynamic country that has adapted over time and will continue to do so.
“A country that champions the robust institutions like our great universities in which we take such pride, and which reflect the distinctive traditions from around the UK but that also embraces diversity and change.”
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Looking ahead, Mr Gove said he believed the case for the UK “grows stronger with every day that passes”.
He added: “And just as we tackled COVID-19 with a UK-wide approach, so we should work together to build back better banking the progress we have made so far and building a sustainable, long-term economic recovery for the whole country over the next five years and beyond.”
Strength in Union was compiled by West Aberdeenshire MP Andrew Bowie and the Centre for Policy think tank.
Mr Bowie, also the Vice Chairman of the Scottish Tories, said: “There are many different views within but I think there is one unifying thread throughout – that the Conservative Party must remain laser-focused on the many things which Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland have in common, against those who would divide us.
“These essays came together over the course of a pandemic that has shaped so much of our political discourse, and it has also shown far more unites us than divides, strengthening the need for a United Kingdom that makes the lives of ordinary people better.”
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In response, SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson said: “As Scotland’s pre-eminent historian Sir Tom Devine recently said, those who think the independence threat is receding are living in a fool’s paradise.
“Michael Gove might be familiar with Scotland’s dancefloors but he’s completely out of touch with public opinion.”
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford earlier this week urged colleagues to prepare for a “new phase” of campaigning as he announced changes to his front bench in a leaked email to staffers and MPs.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants a second vote to take place before the end of 2023, subject to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ButBoris Johnson would still have to grant permission for a legal vote and has so far signalled a no to granting a section 30 order required for a referendum.
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