MSP Angus MacDonald: ‘Our place in Europe must be protected’

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Falkirk Bairns joined with fellow Scots in loudly voicing their desire to remain in the European Union – and then watched as the majority of England and Wales voted to leave.

The full repercussions of last Thursday’s referendum are still not clear. But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already indicated that the Leave campaign’s push for the UK to severe links with neighbours in Europe could eventually lead to another referendum in Scotland on the Independence issue.

In the aftermath of the vote to quit the EU, she said such a move was “highly likely”.

With 62 per cent of Scots voting Remain – 56.7 per cent in the Falkirk Council area, Ms Sturgeon has vowed to “protect Scotland’s relationship with, and place in, the EU”.

As the Conservative and Labour Party slipped into a leadership turmoil, the First Minister was being hailed by many as the voice of reason.

However, it had all appeared so different as the polling stations closed at 10pm on June 23 and the task began of bringing the 150 ballot boxes to Grangemouth Sports Complex to begin the verification and counting process.

As well as being the counting officer for the district, council chief executive Mary Pitcaithly was also the regional returning officer for Scotland. Along with her normal duties of overseeing the local count, she was also in charge of a small team handling all the results from across the country.

This brought an increased media presence, and some senior politicians, to Grangemouth where the early predictions were that it would be close but Remain would edge it.

The gloomy look on the face of Tom Harris, former Labour MSP and leader of the Scottish Leave campaign, told it all – but by 4.30am he was dancing a jig.

By that time we knew that 67.6 per cent, two out of three of those eligible to vote in the Falkirk Council area had been to the polls, and 44,987 of them wanted to remain, while 34,271 had backed the leave camp.

Mrs Pitcaithly had also announced that over 2.68 million votes had been counted across Scotland with 62 per cent for remain and 38 per cent for leave.

However, the picture elsewhere in the UK was totally different.

In the wake of the result, Falkirk MP John McNally said: “The referendum result makes it abundantly clear that we Scots see our future as part of the European Union.

“That is the one certainty in these uncertain times ahead of us.

“I am personally disappointed that large parts of the UK voted to leave the EU. What has happened has now put the possibility of an Independence referendum firmly back on the table.”

His SNP colleague Martyn Day said: “The result of the EU referendum has undoubtedly created a huge amount of uncertainty for many people here in Linlithgow and East Falkirk and right across the country.”

He added: “A number of constituents who voted Leave last Thursday have since told me that they did not expect the result to have such a destabilising effect. Many people wanted to protest against issues such as the fisheries and agricultural policy but did not expect the Leave victory and the danger to jobs in the local area.”

Speaking after the Holyrood decision to fight to keep Scotland in Europe, Falkirk East MSP Angus MacDonald said: “Our national parliament spoke with a strong and united voice – making it absolutely clear that Falkirk district’s vote must be respected and Scotland’s place in Europe must be protected.”