Tag Archives: scottish liberal democrat spring conference 2021

Ed Davey’s speech to Scottish Lib Dem Conference – Independence is Brexit 2.0

Ed Davey spoke to Scottish Lib Dem Conference on Friday. Here is his speech in full:

One of the things that gives me great hope for our Party is seeing so many brilliant rising stars like Joe.

In the year of COP26, Glasgow will be in the global spotlight, and I hope that talented young activists like Joe can be at the forefront of making liberal voices heard. In the crucial debate of our generation – the climate.

I had hoped that by now the Government would be on top of this pandemic. That I would be speaking in person and with you able to knock on doors to get as many Liberal Democrat MSPs elected as possible.

Instead, I was delighted to join some of you for the recent Maraphone event that took place on Six Nations weekend.

You may not have beaten Wales on the pitch, but on the phones Scotland reigns supreme. And please don’t mention the Calcutta Cup.

But seriously, if you haven’t yet had a chance to join one of those Maraphone events, I would highly recommend it. It feels pretty good to connect with voters again.

When I spoke to you last, I was in the middle of my listening tour, travelling up and down the UK.

I talked of our internationalist values and our unwavering pro-European commitment.

And Brexit is already the disaster we said it would be – with huge costs for business.

From the record increase in red tape hitting our exporters to the loss of the Erasmus scheme, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government’s response to the worst economic downturn in 300 years is – to make it more difficult to trade. More difficult to do business. More difficult to keep your job. The Tories seem determined to make us smaller, poorer and more isolated.

They didn’t write that on the side of their bus.

To take just one example: Scottish seafood exporters are losing £1m every day – when the Government could have followed Christine Jardine’s advice and secured a grace period for their trading arrangements.

The UK deserves better than this. I have never been more convinced that being part of the European Union must be part of our country’s destiny.

Sadly Brexit is not the only challenge facing the Scottish economy.

The UK Government has been no more successful at selling the best of Scotland across the Atlantic than it has at keeping the free flow of goods to the continent.

Scotch Whisky exports are now at their lowest levels for 10 years — a product in which Scotland is the utterly undisputed world leader. The Conservatives spent years cosying up to Donald Trump and now we are paying the price.

As we come out of the pandemic, I want to see a green recovery with high skilled, high wage jobs for people in every corner of the UK. I want to see our world leading industries flourishing with hundreds of thousands of good jobs.

That will never happen under Boris Johnson’s cruel and incompetent Conservative Government, whose budget this week threatens to cut off the recovery before it has even got started, letting down small businesses and allowing far too many people to fall through the cracks.

Nor will it happen under a hapless SNP government who would impose independence – Brexit 2.0.

Liberal Democrats want to put recovery first. The SNP want to break-up first.

Liberal Democrats have plans to recover the health and jobs of the Scottish people, SNP plans would harm the NHS and hit jobs across Scotland.

We Liberal Democrats want to see a society richer in more than just material terms. I want to see a society that is fairer, greener and more caring.

That’s why last year I pledged to be the voice of the 9 million carers in our country.

If you’ve heard my story before you will know that this is a deeply personal subject to me. I’ve been a carer throughout my life – for my mum during my teens, then for my wonderful Nanna, and now for my disabled son.

Our Stand up for Carers campaign aims to make sure that carers are no longer forgotten or left behind by those in power.

I have been inspired by Willie Rennie, who has pressed the Scottish Government for months over carers and the situation in care homes.

From exposing the lack of tests and PPE, to pushing for safe visiting to be allowed once more. The people in these homes have spent months apart from their families.

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