Scotland’s Culture and External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop will be in London tonight (Thursday) to address a meeting of the “Wales in London” forum, which promotes Wales in Europe’s business capital.
In a speech to forum members, the Cabinet Secretary will describe the close and enduring bonds that Scotland and Wales would continue to enjoy following a vote for Scottish independence.
Ms Hyslop will highlight cultural links between the two nations and will outline the positive case for independence for Scotland, including how independence would benefit the UK as a whole.
Ms Hyslop is expected to say:
“There are over 17,000 people born in Wales living in Scotland and over 24,000 people born in Scotland now living in Wales. This summer the Commonwealth Games Cultural Programme will see choirs from all over Wales take part in the Big Big Sing, and dance groups from across Wales will take part in the Youth Dance Festival – part of Get Scotland Dancing.
“I mention this to highlight the enduring ties – of family and friendship, trade and commerce, history and culture – which bind our nations.
“Both our countries, in our different ways, have driven constitutional change over the past 16 years. We have both learned to be confident in using the powers we have been given, and bold enough to seek more, understanding that they are best used by the people most affected by them.
“Independence for Scotland can make our bonds stronger.
“In truth, the most meaningful bonds between the countries of these islands have rarely been about the MPs at Westminster.
“With independence Scotland will continue to share close ties with its neighbouring countries. Some ties will be institutional – like sharing a Monarchy. Some will be economic – we will continue to trade freely within the European Union, and people will still move job from Cardiff to Edinburgh and back again. And some will be cultural – Scots will still discuss Eastenders, watch Strictly Come Dancing and enjoy the Rugby and Wimbledon.
“Most of all, Scotland shares family ties and friendships with our neighbours which never can be obsolete, and which I know would continue and flourish after Scottish independence.
“As an equal partner, we can be a friend and an advocate. And as a strong economy in our own right, we will have the opportunity to restore balance to the UK.
“Scotland and Wales already work well together. Across these islands there is the British-Irish Council, which includes the crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, the devolved governments of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and the Governments of Ireland and the UK.
“The British Irish Council currently includes two independent states, three devolved governments and three island groups. The only difference independence for Scotland will make is that there will be three independent countries rather than two.
“Scotland will continue to play an active role in the British Irish Council, and the work we all do there will be no less important to us.
“Independence for Scotland will mean the Scottish and Welsh will no longer be forced to compete for Westminster’s favour to secure better funding. An independent Scotland will take responsibility for raising and spending our own money, leaving Wales free to work with England to secure the best possible deal for its citizens. The result will be two countries more united, and better able to focus on the issues that matter to us both.”