Independence offers escape from “xenophobic, closed, inward looking” Tory Governments, says Nicola Sturgeon
Speaking in Glasgow Nicola Sturgeon says Theresa May’s position on EU nationals “shames her”
Nicola Sturgeon - credit : Aimee Wachtel
Scottish independence provides an alternative to a future defined by “xenophobic, closed, inward looking, discriminatory” Conservative governments, Nicola Sturgeon told delegates in her SNP conference speech.
Pointing to Euroscepticism in the Conservative party as well as reactions to the refugee crisis and cross-party support for Trident, the SNP leader sought to contrast a “progressive, outward looking” Scotland with what she characterised as an increasingly xenophobic Conservative party as evidence of a growing political divide between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Sturgeon claimed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party has failed to offer credible opposition, with the First Minister using her address to SNP members to frame Scottish independence as an alternative to years of Conservative dominance in Westminster.
Referring to Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech at the Conservative party conference, Sturgeon said: “Make no mistake - today, we face a choice of two futures. After last week in Birmingham, there can be no doubt - that choice has never been so stark. The primary contest of ideas in our country is now between the SNP and the hard right Tories.
“The Cameroons have fallen to the Faragistas - and let's face it, the Cameroons were never very appealing in the first place.
“The SNP’s vision for Scotland is welcoming, progressive, open, outward looking, and inclusive. The Tory vision? Xenophobic, closed, inward looking, discriminatory.”
In a speech dominated by the fallout from the EU referendum – which saw the UK vote to leave the EU, but a majority in Scotland coming out in support of Remain – Sturgeon said her feeling on the morning of the result gave her “a new insight into how those who voted No might have felt if 2014 had gone the other way”.
Arguing the party needed to make a new effort to understand why a majority rejected independence in 2014, Sturgeon said: “Some who voted No believed that staying in the UK offered greater economic security, a stronger voice in the world and a guaranteed place in the EU.
“Back then it even seemed possible that there might be a Westminster Labour government at some point in the next 20 years! But the future looks very different today.”
Sturgeon announced plans to establish a new Board of Trade in the Scottish Government, create a new trade envoy scheme and establish permanent trade representation in Berlin.
She also pledged to double the number of Scottish Development International staff working across Europe.
In her speech Sturgeon said May’s position on EU nationals “shames her”, adding, “it will be a stain on her government each and every day that it is allowed to continue”.
She said: “Today's Tories display an ingrained hostility to immigration and offer a stony heart to refugees.
“They treat those with disabilities with suspicion. People seeking support to get back into employment are humiliated and harassed.
“A mother unable to find the bus fare to get to a job centre appointment is more likely to face a benefit sanction than she is to be offered a helping hand.
“And those from other European countries who have chosen to make their homes here - human beings with lives, jobs and families - they are treated as no more than bargaining chips.”
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