Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that her government will take various “positive actions” to demonstrate its empathy and solidarity with the EU, following Prime Minister Theresa May’s “refusal to compromise with the SNP’s position on Europe.”
In a statement issued on 1st April, she said the first such action would commence this week, by using the devolved powers on transport to bring in right hand driving throughout Scotland.
This process, she said, would be road by road, over the next two years until the project was complete. This would make Scotland “at one with EU countries who drive on the right”.
It would be rolled out in a similar way to the Scottish government’s decision in 2001 to bring in Gaelic road signs, which had been an ongoing process, with fund assistance from the EU.
She said application for EU funding would be made, as Scotland was still legally a member, and there is a lengthy transitional period.
She claimed that “Theresa May had grudgingly caved in to SNP demands to stay in the EU for as long as possible”.
When asked how much the project would cost and who would pay if EU funding was not available, she said the figures were still not available, but cost was not the issue. It was the principle of Scotland saying “we are at one with Europe”.
When further pressed she said the project costs may have to be paid for out of the Scottish government transport budget, and that if necessary other road projects would have to be put on hold. She said the “need to express oneness with the EU,” far outweighed any overdue road developments and road repair works needed.
When asked about the failure of the SNP government on transport issues, from roads to bridges to rail and bus issues, she said this was “nit-nat picking and anti-Scottish nationalist hysteria”.
Responding to criticism of her plans that they were not practical, would be confusing for people driving between Scotland and England, and were disruptive for businesses and people generally, she said that “it was another example of the scare stories which were used during the EU referendum campaign”.
Asked why the Scottish people were not being given a say on this in a referendum, she said the SNP had “a broad mandate from the Scottish people to govern in their best interests”.
“It was not necessary to have a referendum when the people made it so clear who they wanted governing them,” she added.
She was then asked why there was not going to be a Scottish Parliamentary debate on the matter, and she said Holyrood had better things to do with its time, such as debating independence referendums.
It was also, she maintained, important for the Scottish parliament to decide on a better policy with the EU than the one dictated by the Westminster government.
Anyway, the Scottish Greens, she stated, had made it clear that they wanted to be “environmentally compatible with the EU”, so any debate would be a foregone conclusion and a waste of Holyrood’s time.
She scolded any critics of the plan, saying they should be well aware that this was a matter where the Scottish Transport Minister had delegated authority and could sign an executive order to implement it.
When questioned about how far such authority should be stretched, she said the reasons for this devolved power were “obvious”. “It should be clear to any thinking person,” she said, “that the Scottish Nationalists always know what they are doing.”
When she was asked why this was not in the SNP’s election manifesto, she responded that “driving the country in the right direction” was very much implied in it. It was “ludicrous and blatantly untrue to allege that the SNP were instead driving the Scottish people around the bend with their policies”.
When questioned if her right side of the road policy for Scotland was actually a genuine pro-EU one, as four members of the EU, apart from the UK, continued to drive on the left side, notably Cyprus, Malta and Ireland, she said she had good relations with Sinn Fein politicians and they wanted Ireland to remove its “British Colonial yoke legacy” by changing to right hand driving too.
She said that it was a minority of countries in the world who had left hand driving and most of them were “former British Colonies who had yet to shed the last remaining vestiges of British Imperialism”.
Finally, she shrugged off requests for more questions saying “her time was important and she would spend it on those who were sensible enough to agree with her on everything”.
It is April the first ……