Michael Moore MP’s Westminster notes

Every week, Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore writes a column for newspapers in his Borders constituency. Here is the most recent edition.

Scottish independence

The SNP’s independence campaign was launched last week, beginning the debate which will see Scotland facing its most important choice in over three hundred years. Before the people of Scotland are asked to make this decision, there are however vitally important questions that need to be answered on what it would mean for people in Scotland if we separated from the rest of the UK. When it comes to weathering the economic storm in Europe, fixing our economy so that it creates new jobs, or investing in our public services and pensions – Scots will want to make an informed choice about what is best for them and their family.

I believe that on these issues and so much else, the nations of the UK are stronger together and weaker apart and I am convinced that remaining part of the UK will be better for the Borders and better for communities all across Scotland. A poll released by YouGov last week shows that a clear majority of Scots feel that way too – 33% of those surveyed agreed that Scotland should become independent with 57% opposed and 10% undecided.

The pro-UK launch will take place in a couple of weeks and I look forward to a serious debate getting under way in which the nationalists will set out their case and we will set out ours for a modern Scotland with a Scottish Parliament, strong and secure within the UK family.

Lord High Commissioner

Last week I was pleased to attend the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland with Lord Selkirk the Lord High Commissioner and Service Chaplains and other senior military figures in Scotland. The General Assembly received a report from the Service Chaplains and was also addressed by Lt General Andrew Graham, Scotland’s senior army officer.  Here in the Borders we have a rich military heritage and as son of a former Service Chaplain, I have a strong affiliation with our armed forces and the work the Church of Scotland does through its Chaplains.

Our armed forces fight on the frontline and risk their lives to protect our freedom here in the UK so it is absolutely vital that we provide them with the support they need. The work of Service Chaplains is an essential part of this and it was great to hear how they are diligently and effectively fulfilling this role.

Scottish Borders Exporters Association

Exports and trade are vital for the Borders economy and from knitwear and seafood, to software and electronics, products made in the Borders are exported all across the world. Boosting these exports is essential to bring growth and jobs to the area and last week I took part in a panel discussion at the Scottish Borders Exporters Association on current trading conditions and the economy. Businesses are under extreme pressure at the moment as a result of the Eurozone crisis and low consumer confidence and it is important that businesses and the Government work together to break down trade barriers and promote UK-made products abroad.

During the panel discussion I outlined the work the UK Government is doing to boost trade and promote exports in the challenging economic climate. The UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) works with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets and promote the UK and UK businesses. As part of its ‘Britain open for business’ strategy, it is identifying the barriers faced by UK companies in high-growth markets, to ensure resources focus on eliminating these barriers to trade.

Our commitment to reduce the UK debt and deficit and work with our European colleagues to end the Eurozone crisis is also essential for Borders businesses. These businesses depend on access to the EU’s single market and have benefited from our ability to keep interest rates low and retain confidence in the UK economy in the markets as a result of our work to reduce the deficit.

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

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