Borders councillor to take on MEP’s role for matter of weeks

Tweeddale West councillor Heather Anderson.Tweeddale West councillor Heather Anderson.
Tweeddale West councillor Heather Anderson. | Other 3rd Party
Borders councillor Heather Anderson is set to become a member of the European Parliament but will face the sack within weeks.

If all goes to plan, the Tweeddale West councillor will take up her post in Brussels next Monday and will represent the Scottish National Party as final negotiations for the UK to leave the EU take place.

However, she knows that come January 31, the day the UK exits the union, she will be out of a job.

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Despite the short time she expects to be in that post, to be spent with her five fellow Scottish MEPs travelling between Brussels and Strasbourg, Mrs Anderson has pledged to focus on the task in hand.

She said: “There was a seat vacant, and it is right that the democratic voice of Scotland is heard to the very end in the European Parliament as there are still bills that are up for scrutiny.

“I know that I will only be an MEP until January 31, but it is absolutely worth doing.

“Scotland has six seats in the Parliament, and we cannot be one down for the last month of our time in the Parliament.

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“What we must remember is that it is Scotland that is being dragged out of Europe against its will, having voted 62% in favour of remaining within it.

“It is very clear that the SNP regards Scotland as a European nation, and we will continue to campaign to become an independent nation and at some point in the future rejoin the European Union, even if that is going to be a long process.

“It is going to be an incredibly sad and sobering time because leaving the European Union is such a harmful thing to do. We have tried to reach a compromise for years, pushing for Scotland to remain part of the customs union and the single market but we have been offered no concessions, no special treatment. In fact, we have been completely ignored.”

Mrs Anderson’s route to the European Parliament was a complicated, delay-beset one.

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She was the fifth person on a list of candidates for the last European election chosen by the SNP’s members.

Alyn Smith, Christian Allard and Aileen Macleod were all elected in the landslide SNP win in that election, with Margaret Ferrier in fourth place.

Mr Smith is now MP for Stirling and has resigned from the European Parliament, and Ms Ferrier won back her Rutherglen and Hamilton West seat at December’s UK Government general election, meaning that Mrs Anderson, of Lamancha, is next in line to replace the former.

She is now awaiting confirmation of her role from UK cabinet minister Michael Gove.

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Mrs Anderson, 60, also revealed that after her short stint in the European Parliament, she will be returning to her duties representing the people of Tweeddale West.

She added: “If I had been going to the European Union to be a member for a number of years, then I would have relinquished my council seat, but as it is for just a short time I will be remaining as a councillor, and I will still be answering my council emails.

“For the period when I am an MEP, I will also be donating my council salary to charity.”

Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam was in the running to be an MEP last year too, for the Conservatives, but missed out, also failing in her attempt to take the UK Government’s Lanark and Hamilton East seat.

Like her, Mrs Anderson, a farmer, failed in her bid to swap Newtown for Westminster, losing out to Dave Doogan in her effort to be selected as the SNP’s candidate for Angus.