This article was published by the Herald on 25th July 2019. You can also read the Evening News version online, here.
WHEN Boris Johnson last tried to convince people in Scotland to vote for him, he came a distant third place. That was when he stood to be rector of Edinburgh University, and students in this city sent him packing after throwing a pint of Teviot Union’s finest ale over him.
Unless you are a Conservative Party member, you haven’t had a say in him becoming Prime Minister. I have no problem in saying that he has ducked and dived like Del Boy and Rodney to advance his own political ambitions. He has said anything to anyone. He lied to the country and then stabbed his predecessor in the back to get what he wanted. But he will want your vote in the next General Election, which could come sooner rather than later. He doesn’t deserve it.
Boris Johnson is a hardline Brexiteer, who is prepared to drag the UK out of the EU without a deal. That would be a catastrophic and unforgiveable act, causing untold damage to Edinburgh’s economy. The worry is he knows it.
This week, my MSP colleague Daniel Johnson and I wrote to 22,000 constituents in the south of the city to highlight just some of the many reasons why Edinburgh values being part of the EU. As many as five per cent of all jobs in the capital are filled by key workers from EU countries, with this ratio much higher in many of Edinburgh’s key sectors and institutions across tourism, higher education, hospitality, health and social care, and financial services.
In Edinburgh University alone, EU workers constitute 17 per cent of all staff, while Edinburgh as a whole records a higher proportion of EU students than any other UK city. The financial services industry provides £5 billion to Edinburgh’s economy and employs 50,000 people. The UK enjoys the benefits of 750 international agreements through our membership of the EU, but the loss of ‘financial passporting’ would cause major disruption in servicing EU and international markets.
Edinburgh’s economy is more reliant on financial services than even the London. Boris Johnson wants to put all this at risk, in turn putting livelihoods in our city at risk. He wants to risk your job, so he could get the job he always craved.
Along with colleagues from my own party and others, I will work in the national interest in the vital months ahead. That’s why I have joined other MPs in a court petition to stop the PM shutting down parliament to drive through a no-deal Brexit. The future of our city and our country is at stake, and I will campaign tirelessly to make sure that people in Edinburgh get a final say on any Brexit deal with the option for the UK to remain in the EU.
You don’t solve problems by creating borders, but by building bridges. That is the clear view of the people of Edinburgh in two referenda – we want Scotland in the UK and the UK in the EU.
Boris Johnson is not only a threat because of a no-deal Brexit, but because of the risk he poses to the union. I raised this yesterday in the Commons, pointing out that the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party is now the Scottish Conservative and Brexit Party, abandoning unionism.
Boris Johnson, with his reckless Brexit plan, is as big a threat to the union – if not a bigger threat – than any nationalist. The challenge now is to Ruth Davidson and her Scottish Tory colleagues. Are you going to allow this myth-peddling buffoon to do untold damage to the union?
The people of Edinburgh want to remain in both the UK and the EU, and we must work harder than ever before to fight the threat of divisive nationalism in all its forms before it starts to cost our communities dear.