Brexit has rekindled the voice of the foreign adventurer, the buccaneer, among some in the UK and also (incredibly), Imperial dreams. But most Scots feel differently. We don’t, I suspect, feel the need to stride the world stage anymore. Cautiously and in small stages, we have been allowed to become aware of the consequences of past UK actions. The harm we have done to others. We understand that the military adventures in the Middle East which have followed the collapse of the British Empire have been disastrous and unsuccessful. We are aware of the pain we have caused, the societies we have ruined, the neglect we showed to our own kind, and the lies that were told to ourselves and others while this happened. We no longer trust the ruling establishment, the ambitions of the rich and powerful or those of the old left. These people and their actions disgust us.
The EU, on the other hand, has proved to be a force for good and has acted as a check to some of the wilder UK ambitions.
Given a chaotic post-Brexit landscape, we choose to move forward with the EU. It seems a stable and responsible organisation, where decisions are made by and for 27 separate states. No single state has too much power over the others, and there is a strong emphasis on working for the common good.
We need to give this feeling political expression. We realise that it is better to live in harmony with our neighbours and we want to co-operate with them.
We benefit from them already, and here’s how.
Scotland gets 5.6 Billion Euros in grants via CAP, EU Structural Funds and the Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
The European Investment Bank is also lending to Scotland. To borrow from it you have to be a member state.
“The European Investment Bank is the European Union’s nonprofit long-term lending institution. The EIB uses its financing operations to bring about European integration and social cohesion.
It is the world’s largest international public lending institution.”
Here are some current EIB lending projects:-
Hospitals – Edinburgh Sick Children’s €112,072,090
Dumfries and Galloway Hospital €154,811,270
sub total €266,883,360
Roads-Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route €340,982,279
M8 Motorway €212,830,016
sub total €553,812,295
Further Education – Edinburgh University “Capex” €256,953,812
City of Glasgow College € 95,285,774
Horizon Funds”-mainly to education €296,000,000
sub total €648,239,586
The Beatrice windfarm off the Caithness Coast has also attracted EIB lending.
It will give energy to more than 400,000 homes. That’s equivalent to one in every six Scottish homes. An EIB document states that:-
“The €605,335,484 EIB loan will support more than GBP 2.7 billion of overall investment.” (source-EIB)
That makes a total in these examples of over seven billion Euros. These sums really matter. They represent Infrastructure spending on a scale which, in the past, the UK government has rarely bothered with.
After Brexit, would the UK maintain this?
Now let’s look at the rest of the built environment. Wherever you live, in Scotland’s towns, villages and cities, how many old or worn out buildings can you see? Many date from Victorian times or earlier. Why is that? Why haven’t they been replaced or renovated? What else was the money spent on? Over the past hundred years, shouldn’t UK governments have been concentrating on those things as well, or were we just too far away or to insignificant? Did we just not really matter?
Europe can also have a positive influence on our personal lives. Today we have a set of living expectations which UK politicians have struggled to satisfy, and make no mistake, we want these expectations met.
We want good quality jobs, to be safe at work, to work for an ethical employer.
We want a balance of work/life time which enhances our lives.
We want to be satisfied that our lives and time are well spent. We want to have a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives.
We want all our people to live free of deprivation. To have an income which gives a good living standard, to live in good quality housing.
We want to have good physical and mental health.
We want to live in conditions which promote a happy, full and long life for all. And while we live that life, we all want access to good quality health care.
We want to protect our environment. We want a sustainable future that we can build on and pass on to our children.
If you want Scotland to grow and prosper, you need a Scottish Nation engaged with Europe.
Again it is worth emphasising that the UK government has struggled to satisfy these demands and often seems uninterested. Yet these same demands represent no more than citizens of other European countries enjoy today.
Much recent EU legislation and regulation has been put in place to help to give us these things. We recognise and value that fact. EU law and treaty obligations have made improvements to our quality of life when the UK did not, did not wish it, or did not care about it. Now that this link with EU help is being cut by a UK decision, we are seeking a secure future within EU structures. Scotland can prosper in Europe.