Further roadside protest planned in Borders in defiance of plea by Nicola Sturgeon

A further protest discouraging visitors from coming into Scotland from England is being planned in the Borders this week in defiance of calls by Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon and justice secretary Humza Yousaf for no more such demonstrations.

A nationalist demonstrator taking part in an anti-English protest in the lay-by at the Scotland-England border on the A1 on Saturday.
A nationalist demonstrator taking part in an anti-English protest in the lay-by at the Scotland-England border on the A1 on Saturday.

A protest by several nationalist activists in a layby on the A1 on the Scotland-England border at Lamberton, north of Berwick, on Saturday attracted widespread criticism, but that has failed to stop plans being drawn up for a follow-up.

East Renfrewshire nationalist protester Sean Clerkin is reported to be among those organising another demonstration this Thursday, July 9, and he told Glasgow-based newspaper the Herald: “We want people who are south of the border to stay south of the border and not come up to Scotland. That includes Scots, English, any nationality.

“If they are down in England, they should stay there until this virus is over.

Nicola Sturgeon at today's Scottish Government Covid-19 outbreak update in Edinburgh.

“It is about public health, and protecting Scottish people.

“Instead of Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf condemning the protest on Saturday, they should be praising them for being good Scottish patriots, for standing up for the people of Scotland, instead of criticising them. They did nothing wrong.”

That plan for a second protest in the space of a week flies in the face of an appeal made by Ms Sturgeon yesterday, July 6, at her daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh.

“I don’t approve of the protests, and I would ask people not to protest on the border because I don’t think it is a particularly sensible or helpful thing to do,” she said.

“I can’t be clearer than I have been – the Scottish National Party is an open and welcoming party and Scotland is an open and welcoming country, and that kind of protest is not something I condone or endorse in any way, shape or form.”

Her call for an end to such protests is being backed by Borders MP John Lamont and MSP Rachael Hamilton.

Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk MP Mr Lamont said: “I was astonished to see the very ugly scenes on the A1 at the weekend.

“It is such a shame to see such divisive and disgusting language used towards our neighbours in England.

“When our tourism industry is enduring the toughest period in living memory, the last thing that Scotland needs is to be discouraging tourists from spending their money at Scottish businesses.

“We should also remember that many people, especially those living in the Borders, cross the border every day for work, shopping or to visit friends and family.

“I hope that organisers of any upcoming protests realise the damage they are doing to Scotland’s image and take heed of the widespread derision seen since the weekend.”

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Mrs Hamilton added: “The protests at the border are a sad reflection of the narrow-minded and poisonous nationalism that exists in Scotland.

“Scotland is a tolerant and welcoming country and the actions of these people are hostile and xenophobic.

“The fact it took Nicola Sturgeon two days to condemn the incident at the weekend is shocking and totally unacceptable.

“Tourism is the backbone of many rural Scottish areas and many businesses are planning to reopen for July 15.

“Tourists from England spend annually around £1.7bn in Scotland in our hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions.

“I hope people from the rest of the UK are not deterred by these people and support our fantastic tourism industry in the coming weeks”.