Diary of a four-day mini-break

Scottish Borders Councillor Heather Anderson gave her one and only speech as an MEP in Brussels on Thursday – the day before Britain left the EU.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 2:10 pm
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 3:23 pm
Heather Anderson, centre, listens to fellow SNP MEP Aileen McLeod give a speech at Brussels.

The Tweeddale West councillor made her maiden speech during a debate on the European Commission’s work programme for 2020 and in the presence of Maroš Šefčovič, vice-president of the commission.

She was elevated to Brussels as one of Scotland’s six MEPs – one of three from the SNP – after Alyn Smith was voted in as an MP at the last election, but she only had four days at Brussels before the country officially left the European Union on Friday night.

Commenting after the speech, Ms Anderson said: “In my short time as an MEP I’ve been struck by the genuine warmth felt towards Scotland. People know that we rejected Brexit and increasing numbers are sympathetic to our return as an independent member.

“It was no accident that MEPs from across Europe chose Auld Lang Syne to mark our departure. The door is open for our return – and that choice is now in the hands of the people of Scotland.”

Ms Anderson’s landmark speech went as follows.

“I am so honoured to be able to speak to you this morning on behalf of the people of Scotland. I thank you for the warmth of your welcome over the last four weeks and am so pleased to have settled status, even if just for four days as an MEP.

“I wish with all my heart that we could continue to have the conversations we’ve started with you about the Green Deal, sustainable food and farming, a just transition, pesticides and reforming the CAP but, for now, we can’t. But I know you will do these discussions justice.

“My plea today is for you to remember Scotland in your work programme. Just imagine how difficult it is for a country, like Scotland, who has pledged their allegiance to the European Union on no less than three occasions, to be taken out against our will and without our consent.

“We do not live in a United Kingdom, we live in a disunited Kingdom and Brexit is not the settled will of the Scottish people.

“But we are resilient and have long memories. We have shared a long history with you in Europe, both before our current union with England and hopefully in the future.

“We know our best future is with you and when the people of Scotland have to choose between two unions, they are deciding to choose the European Union.”