Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has today offered to meet constituents who are concerned about the implications to them of the UK’s stated intention of taking Scotland out of the European Union.
The Western Isles voted to Remain in the EU by 55% of the vote – alongside every other local authority area in Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made clear that it would be a 'democratic outrage' for Scotland to now be dragged out of the EU against its will. The Scottish Government is now exploring all options to protect Scotland’s relationship with Europe.
Alasdair Allan, who serves as Europe minister in the Scottish government, commented: "I am of course disappointed by the UK result in the referendum. I am pleased however, that the islands, like every single other local authority in Scotland, voted to remain in the European Union. My real concern is that Scotland's democratically expressed views on this subject don't seem to count for very much in the eyes of the UK Government.
“The Scottish Government, by contrast, has sought over the last few days to defend Scotland’s interests in Europe and to explore every possible route to maintaining the vital connection which Scotland has with the EU.
“I know already that many people in the islands have very immediate practical concerns about what leaving the EU would mean for them, and I am keen to meet anyone who would like to discuss their own issues with me."
He continued: "For citizens of other EU countries living in the islands, I appreciate that this is a worrying and uncertain time, not least because there is no obvious plan on the part of the UK government at present to deal with their situation. I want to make very clear how much I value the contribution of people from around Europe, who have put down roots in the islands and who have made this home for their families. There are a number of areas of the island economy, both private and public sector, which would be very much worse off without your contribution. Like, I suspect most people in the islands, I want you to stay.
“The wider impact on business of the UK vote last week will certainly be felt by island businesses, as is witnessed by the impact which the result has already had on the currency markets, and the very uncertain future around European trade.
“As yet we have no clear picture of what, if anything, the UK government would do to replace CAP grants to crofters, which the European Union will not be paying out beyond the next couple of years if the UK government has its way. And, although I have been a critic of the common fisheries policy, I am concerned that there is no clear plan as to what, if any, new deal on fishing the UK intends to negotiate with Europe."
Mr Allan said that he accepted and respected that there were many people in the islands who had not voted the same way as himself.
"But I believe that the step that was taken at a UK level is one with potentially very real and damaging consequences for the islands," he added.
"That is why the Scottish Government will do everything in its power to ensure that the decision of voters in the islands and elsewhere in Scotland is respected, and that Scotland remains part of the EU.”