Edinburgh Evening News column 9/7/19

Later this month, 120,000 Tory members will choose the next leader of their party, the replacement for Theresa May, and as a consequence, the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Looking ahead at who is running to fill the vacancy in Number 10, the options make for depressing reading. Unfortunately, this Tory leadership contest has been a horror show from beginning to end.

The next Prime Minister could be Boris Johnson – who once argued that “a pound spent in Croydon will generate more for the economy than a pound spent in Strathclyde,” and said that Muslim women looked like “letterboxes”, among a long list of outrageous comments.

The other option is Jeremy Hunt, who as Health Secretary ran the National Health Service into the ground – forcing junior doctors to strike for the first time in 40 years, called for the abortion limit to be halved from 24 weeks to 12 weeks, and previously said he wanted the NHS to be dismantled and replaced by a run-for-profit system.

Each of these would-be PMs is mired in controversy, and their extreme views will rightly spark concern with voters across the UK.

On the 23 July, one of these men will be foisted upon Scotland – ready to deny the people of Scotland a chance to decide their own future, but also ready to lurch even further to the right in an attempt to pander to Nigel Farage and his right-wing Brexit Party.

Edinburgh voted three to one to remain in the EU – so did Scotland – but the next Prime Minister is intent on delivering a Brexit that Scotland didn’t vote for, and which will wreak enormous damage on our businesses and our economy.

Beyond the hollow rhetoric about protecting the Union, both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are two peas in a pod, who are both willing to drive Scotland and the UK off an economic cliff-edge with a no-deal Brexit – no matter the cost.

Neither of the candidates are fit to lead the country out of the dire situation in which we find ourselves. The prospect of Johnson or Hunt becoming the next Prime Minister illustrates the divergent paths that Scotland and the rest of the UK are on.

The people of Scotland deserve the choice of a better future than the shambles offered by a Westminster government which has let Scotland down at every turn – ignoring our people and locking our government out of crucial discussions that would shape our nation’s future.

It is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is by taking our place as an equal, independent European nation.

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