The country’s MPs signed off for summer recess this week but not before one last skirmish on Scottish independence.
A government debate on ‘Strengthening the Union’ occupied the House of Commons on Monday afternoon, led by the Cabinet Office Minister Chloe Smith.
The elephant in the room was Brexit, the lack of a deal is continuing to put a significant strain on the Union.
Two of the four constituent nations voted to Remain yet the overall result was to Leave.
The Irish border has become one of the key issues in negotiation with the European Union. And, as we all know, the Scottish nationalists sense an opportunity to further their cause and bring about a second referendum.
As expected, their contributions to the debate were pretty sour. They claimed to speak for Scotland, yet ignored the 38 per cent of Scots who voted Leave and the majority of the country who reject their calls for another referendum.
Tellingly, none of the depleted cadre of nationalist MPs could explain why the union with Europe is key to Scotland’s future prosperity but sharing sovereignty with our near neighbours on trade and security is such a bad idea.
Laughably, Tommy Shepherd, who considers himself vehemently anti-Tory, admitted he would do the exact same as his 1979 predecessors, who brought down the Callaghan Government and handed Margaret Thatcher the keys to Downing Street. Yet again the masks slips.
The SNP were shown up by spirited contributions from a number of Labour MPs, led by Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird, and the new Scottish Conservative MPs, including Douglas Ross, Stephen Kerr and John Lamont.
Yet some of the best points were made by MPs from English constituencies, proud to speak on behalf of the union. Mrs Smith, who is the MP for Norwich North, summed it best when she told the chamber: “We are united in our deeper beliefs, democratic traditions and our long history of working as one to benefit us all. When we come together as one people, we benefit from the security and stability that comes from being one of the largest economies in the world, pooling risks and sharing benefits.”
There can be no doubt that following the democratic will of the people of the United Kingdom, leaving the European Union will be a difficult process. The Irish border has to be resolved in a way that respects the Good Friday Agreement and builds on the progress made in embedding peace in the area. And the SNP will seek to drive a wedge at every opportunity they can.
But the underlying argument for the United Kingdom remains stronger than ever, and it remains in all of our interests to keep working together. For reasons of trade, security and culture, it just makes sense, whether we voted Remain or Leave, and it is important we do not lose sight of this amid the Brexit chaos.
The UK will survive Brexit despite the best efforts of the nationalists and we thank our elected representatives for continuing to make the case, whether they represent Kirkcaldy, Moray or Norwich.