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Keith Howell: UK break-up is not 'inevitable'.

Ruth Davidson handled her resignation with honesty, dignity and sure-footed aplomb, just as she has dealt with most matters during her time in politics, which is more than many politicians can say.

Scotland owes her a great debt for amongst other things doing such an excellent job during the independence referendum campaign and subsequently standing up to continuing SNP attempts to convince us that breaking up the UK is “inevitable”. 

In truth that wishful thinking on the part of the independence movement can only be turned into reality if a proper case is made for why we would be better off, in all the ways that matter, out of the UK rather than remaining in it.

Essential elements of the 2013 White Paper have now been thoroughly discredited, not just the economic case, but also the practicalities of how long it would take to negotiate a departure deal and set up the machinery of a separate state. When, after the number of years that will take, an independent Scotland starts trying to get its affairs into good order, the SNP’s own Growth Commission has recognised that it could take a decade or more of serious austerity to put our public finances onto a sustainable footing. All of that will be possible, but at a great cost to us all, with, as is always the case, the most vulnerable suffering more in the process than others.

Ruth Davidson would not want anyone to give up on the UK, either because of how difficult Brexit is proving to be or because she now, understandably and rightly after many years of determined but at times gruelling effort, has her own new personal priorities. 

There is nothing “inevitable” about what will unfold over the coming weeks and months. I believe the majority will instead reserve judgement on many of the key issues until events have properly played out.

Keith Howell


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