By Patience Magill
The soon to be confirmed Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to work with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to protect Scotland’s place in Europe, soon after she takes over at 10 Downing Street this Wednesday.
Angus Robertson MP, the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader, reacted to Mrs May’s sudden elevation to the top job by urging her to act quickly during a period of great uncertainty.
“Theresa May must show strong leadership,” commented Mr Robertson. “She becomes Prime Minister at a time of great uncertainty caused by the Tories and she will face major challenges as a result.
“The Tories have taken the country and the economy to the edge of a cliff with the EU referendum result – putting party ahead of country, failing to plan for Brexit and causing a great deal of damage and uncertainty.
“Theresa May should now work with Nicola Sturgeon to protect Scotland’s place in Europe – respecting the overwhelming choice of the people of Scotland who voted by 62 per cent to remain in the EU.”
His comments came as it emerged in a YouGov poll that many European voters would support an independent Scotland becoming a member of the EU in the event of “Brexit”. The scenario was supported by 71 per cent of Germans, 67 per cent of Danes and 61 per cent of French.
May’s arrival as Prime Minister followed the unexpected withdrawal of her rival for the Conservative Party leadership, Andrea Leadsom, for reasons that were not entirely explained but presumably came from a realisation from the latter’s right wing support that they could not actually win control. Leadsom supporters like Iain Duncan Smith claimed she had been the victim of a dark conspiracy, but the likelihood is that many Conservative Party members realised that her lack of experience and poor grasp of politics would be exposed even more greatly across the length of a two month campaign.
The result is that for the second time in 10 years the UK will have a Prime Minister it did not elect, the last being Gordon Brown, a man who spent much of his period as Chancellor attempting to unseat his leader and rival, Tony Blair. After seizing control unopposed in 2007, Brown was kicked out of Downing Street when he finally conceded a general election three years later.
May, supposedly a Remain supporter in the EU campaign, was quickly embraced by most of her party as the right choice following a bloody two weeks which saw pro-Brexit flag wavers Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Liam Fox and finally Leadsom all fall by the wayside. It will be interesting to note if any of them are awarded Cabinet places.
At her formal campaign launch early on Monday – before Leadsom’s announcement – May positioned herself as a pro-worker, pro-consumer PM who would legislate for UK company bosses to be more answerable to shareholders and others.
This was challenged by Scottish MSP Clare Haughey, a former trade union official, who said May would “not be allowed to forget her role as an enthusiastic member of the most anti-worker UK Government in generations”.
Haughey added: “Workers in Scotland have heard this type of nonsense from Tory politicians before and got wise to the Tory con-trick long ago. That’s exactly why Theresa May’s latest claims will fall on deaf ears, and the Tories will continue to be seen as what they are – the party of the privileged few, rather than the party of working people.”
Scottish Labour also attacked the Tories’ recent leadership shambles.
Jackie Baillie MSP said: “Theresa May has told us that ‘Brexit means Brexit’, but has said absolutely nothing about what she will do to respect the majority of people in Scotland who voted to remain inside the European Union and the United Kingdom. She should, as a matter of urgency, spell out exactly what she will do to involve the Scottish Government – and all devolved Governments – in the negotiations with the European Union.
“People across the country will be less interested in the theatre of what happens in Westminster and more about what happens to the money in their pockets over the coming months and years. Theresa May has to show with her actions that this Government will deliver for working people across Scotland.”
Labour MP Angela Eagle launched her challenge to become party leader on Monday. The party’s national executive has to decide whether existing leader Jeremy Corbyn can offer himself for the leadership. If he can, he is expected to win. If he can only do so with the support of at least 50 Westminster colleagues, he may be forced to step aside.