Douglas Alexander warns Nicola Sturgeon over Brexit stance

Written by James Millar on 10 November 2016 in Diary

Former Labour minister and election mastermind has been largely silent since 2015 defeat

Douglas Alexander, Labour's election supremo ahead of last year's general election, has made a surprise return to UK politics.

The former Europe minister and Scottish secretary has kept a low profile since losing his seat to 20-year-old Mhairi Black in 2015 and taking up a post at Harvard University in the US.

But he's resurfaced with a column in The Times today analysing Scotland's place in the Brexit negotiations and offering advice to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

He suggested the UK has a very weak bargaining position on leaving the EU. He explained: "One of the many ironies of a campaign run under the slogan "Take back control" is that it has ensured that the UK is not in control of the terms of the deal that will, at some point, be struck with Europe. The operation and the timetable of the Article 50 process were specifically designed to put the leaving country on the back foot."

But he believes that within the UK Scotland can win concessions from Prime Minister Theresa May.

Most notably he called for Scotland to essentially have a separate immigration system by giving Holyrood the power to issue work permits according to the needs of the Scottish economy. This is something the SNP have been calling for and it's believed other senior Labour figures are sympathetic to the idea.

Alexander, who includes adviser to U2 singer Bono on global poverty among his portfolio of jobs, also called for EU powers over fisheries and agriculture to be handed to Holyrood post-Brexit and backed Gordon Brown's call for a constitutional convention to consider further devolution to the nations and regions of the UK.

But his harshest words are reserved for the SNP. He warned Nicola Sturgeon not to keep using the threat of another independence referendum in discussions with Downing Street adding: "It doesn't make sense when you're shot in the foot to then threaten to cut off your leg."

And he said he could see parallels with David Cameron's approach to the EU referendum, which ultimately ended in Cameron quitting as PM. "My honest worry is that the SNP risks replicating David Cameron's fatal error -  starting off by trying to solve a party problem and ending up creating a far, far bigger country problem.

"Constantly threatening an independence referendum without any economic evidence to back a vote for separation and without any credible answers to reasonable questions doesn't enhance the first minister's credibility for the discussions ahead - it diminishes it."




Share this page



Please login to post a comment or register for a free account.