As It Happens

Scotland should be independent from 'reckless and careless' British government, says MP

Scottish MP Hannah Bardell says voters have sent Prime Minister Boris Johnson a clear message: Scotland has the right to choose its own future.

The pro-independence Scottish National Party gained 13 seats in U.K. election

Hannah Bardell, left, and Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon, right. Bardell, a newly reelected SNP MP says Scotland has sent a clear message to Westminster that the country should be allowed to decide its own fate. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)


Scottish MP Hannah Bardell says voters have sent Prime Minister Boris Johnson a clear message: Scotland has the right to choose its own future.

Johnson and his Conservative government won a majority in Thursday's general election that he needed to push through Brexit, but he now faces a challenge from the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP).  

The SNP holds 48 of the 59 Scotland-based seats in the British Parliament. The Conservative Party holds just six. 

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister and the leader of the party, said that starting next week she would push hard for another referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.  

Bardell is a Scottish National Party MP. Here is part of her conversation with As It Happens host Carol Off.

How does it feel to be going back to Westminster with 48 of 59 seats from Scotland?

I'm incredibly excited to have an increased number of Scottish National Party colleagues.

I have mixed emotions about going back to Westminster, to be honest, because it's not a particularly nice place to work, and a Conservative majority is bad news for my constituents in Livingston, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable.

Brexit is not something that either my constituents in Livingston or the people of Scotland voted for. And as things stand, that's going to be forced upon them until we get Scottish independence.

In the meantime, how are you going to reconcile this? You say that it's a pretty miserable place because, you know, the Conservatives [won a] landslide with a commitment to "Get Brexit Done." So where does that leave you when Scotland so clearly opposes leaving the EU?

I think the point you make about getting Brexit done is an important one because that's just a lie, for the start.

Whether Scotland remains within the U.K. or not, the U.K. and Westminster is going to be debating and trying to sort out Brexit for the next five to 10 years. 

I think Brexit has shone a light on the dysfunctional nature of Westminster and its politics. It doesn't serve anybody in the U.K. well. Least of all Scotland. 

But an increased number of SNP MPs is a huge opportunity and it's a strong message to Boris Johnson, to the Conservative government. 

I think anybody who believes in democracy recognises when a party wins the election, as we have done in Scotland, with 80 per cent of the seats ... Scotland has the right to choose its own future.

Bardell takes a selfie following Sturgeon launching the SNP election campaign on Nov. 8, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Can I ask how you can be so sure that the people who voted for you want to proceed with independence? They clearly were rejecting Brexit, they clearly want to stay within the EU, but does that necessarily translate into support for an independent Scotland?

We haven't said that — and Nicola Sturgeon, our first minister, has been very clear. We are not going to pretend that everybody that voted for the SNP wants independence for Scotland. 

But what we can be sure of is the manifesto commitment that we stood on, which was to put Scotland's future into Scotland's hands and to give Scotland a choice. 

We are not taking people's votes for granted or taking them to mean that they necessarily support independence, per se. But people support the democratic principle that we should be allowed to decide. 

Scotland is just so at odds with the way most of the United Kingdom voted. … Have you ever felt so much distance between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom? 

The distance between what Scotland wants and the kind of country it is and wants to be is just completely different from England and from the rest of the U.K.

And I think it's become very clear that the way the U.K. has been governed by successive Westminster administrations has, at many times and much of the time, been reckless and careless and particularly had very little regard for Scotland.

I think the best thing that can happen is that we have devolution for England. England can have its own government. Scotland has independence. And we will be equal partners; we will stand on our own two feet. And I'm sure we will still be good friends and neighbours, in fact potentially better friends and neighbours.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to supporters and press as the Conservatives celebrate a sweeping election victory. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

But in the meantime, Scotland is part of the U.K., and the U.K. is leaving the European Union. Boris Johnson is committed to that. He is not going to stop at go. So you're going, right? Whether Scotland voted differently or not, you are now joined at the hip with an entity that's leaving the European Union. So how do you reconcile that?

We reconcile it by executing our democratic mandate to have an independence referendum.

But there is no doubt, absolutely no doubt, [of] the threat of this Conservative majority government to our economy. I mean we've already lost, in the U.K., 66 billion pounds of our economy. 

We've already had significant numbers of European Union nationals leave Scotland and leave the U.K., and that's had a devastating impact already. And Brexit hasn't even happened.

But that's going to continue. 

In the short term.  

The world's eyes are on Scotland and are watching what we are doing, and particularly those in Europe. I sit on the Council of Europe, which precedes the European Union, and I speak all the time to other European politicians who are desperate to have Scotland as an independent nation in the EU. 

And so yes, there is going to be a short-term threat, and damage is already being done to Scotland. But that's exactly why we need to have a say in our own future and be an independent nation.

Written by Sarah Jackson with files from the Associated Press. Produced by Chris Harbord. Q&A has been edited for length and clarity. 


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