Brexit hovers in the background and the public may be called on to finally decide our future relationship with the European Union in another referendum on Brexit.
With the endless debate and delays on that tricky decision it has meant the UK will have to take part in another European Parliament Election, with voters being called to the ballot box next Thursday, May 23rd.
UK voters will choose 73 MEPs with each region of the UK having a different number of MEPs based on its population. Six MEPs will be elected to represent Scotland.
Scottish MEPs are elected by proportional representation, in order as listed by their party. The number of MEPs each party gets is calculated using a formula called d’Hondt.
Talking about the views of their Parties, the Islands MSPs put their views to the Gazette.
Constituency MSP Alasdair Allan, who is a member of the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), highlights that Scotland’s future should be as part of Europe, he said: “The Western Isles voted to Remain in the EU – just like every part of Scotland. But we face the prospect of a shambolic Tory Brexit that threatens to have a devastating impact on living standards, our public services, and the economy.
“Since the referendum, I’ve spoken with people who voted to leave and I can understand – though obviously not agree with –their reasons for doing so. However, the promises which were made simply do not match the chaotic reality unfolding before everyone’s eyes. That is why more and more people are calling for Brexit to be stopped.
“On May the 23rd by voting SNP, people can send a clear and unequivocal message to Theresa May: Scotland’s future lies in Europe and Scotland has had enough of being ignored.
“Since Winnie Ewing was elected to the European Parliament for the Highlands and Islands forty years ago, the islands have had strong SNP advocates in Brussels. I want to take this opportunity in particular to recognise the work done for the islands’ fishing and crofting interests by Ian Hudghton MEP, who is standing down at this election.”
Highlands and Islands Regional MSP Rhoda Grant of the Scottish Labour is keen to see the division in the country healed.
She said: “Only Labour can bring our divided country back together. A vote for Labour on 23 May is a vote for change.
“That’s why we want to work across Europe to tackle the big issues of our time, such as standing up to global corporations who won’t pay their tax, and backing common workers’ rights across Europe so people get a fair deal at work.
“It is wrong that workers in corporations are forced to pay their taxes every pay day but for companies themselves avoid giving their fair share.
“We back action across Europe on climate change. Our planet faces a climate emergency and no country standing alone will be able to face up to it. We need to work together.
“The polls show that Labour is the only party that can beat Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party on the 23rd of May at the ballot box.
“A win for Farage and his cronies would help him legitimise his politics of hate, fear and scapegoating as legitimate.
“We need to stand united as a country for our values of cooperation, internationalism and fairness.
“Use your vote in the European Parliament election to back Labour, our nation’s values and to defeat Farage.
“Only Labour is working for a fairer Scotland in a fairer Europe.”
Highlands and Islands Regional MSP Donald Cameron of the Scottish Conservative Party, wants to end the uncertainty, and believes Britain has a bright future outside of the EU, he said: “I’ve always said we should honour the Brexit referendum result and leave the EU with a deal, so I deeply regret these elections are taking place.
“They are however very important. And that’s because the SNP want to turn them into an election about something completely different – an excuse for holding yet another referendum, this time on Scottish independence. And, on top of that, they even want to re-run the Brexit referendum! If that happens, the result would be years of more division and uncertainty, and surely, no-one outside the ranks of the most committed nationalists wants that.
“A vote for the Scottish Conservatives offers a quite different prospect. It is a vote to respect the result of both recent referendums and get on with the job of managing Britain’s departure from the EU.
“As we have seen, it’s not easy to disentangle our country from a union of more than forty years standing. But I firmly believe that the best option is to support a party which is sincere in dealing with the challenges of Brexit and also wants to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead. Britain has a very bright future if we come together and work to this common end.
“So, please vote on the 23rd. Send Nicola Sturgeon a clear message – no more referendums. And let’s get on with the task of achieving a successful Brexit.
Highlands and Islands Regional MSP John Finnie, of the Green Party, says the Greens are an antidote to the rise of the toxic far right, he said: “These are the most important European elections we’ve ever had. We are in the midst of a climate emergency which needs a radical and international response.
“The far right is on the rise throughout Europe, while at home Scotland’s choice to remain in the EU has been ignored.
“The Scottish Greens have been at the forefront of the campaign for a people’s vote and led the legal challenges which proved the shambolic Tory Brexit can be halted.
“Scotland needs a Green voice in Europe to fight for a just society and the change that’s needed to tackle the climate emergency, which is the defining issue of our age.
“No other party is prepared to take the bold action which this crisis demands. With the help of our European colleagues, we will continue to champion a Green New Deal which will provide thousands of jobs for the future and place Scotland at the heart of a new sustainable Europe.
“Greens also provide the antidote to the toxic far right hate. The rise of the hard right across Europe is deeply disturbing, but it cannot be countered from the centre.
“That’s why a Green wave is sweeping the continent, inspired by a message which welcomes migrants and chooses hope over hate.”
Other parties standing in the European Election are Change UK, the Liberal Democrats, the Brexit Party and UKIP.
Change UK - formerly known as The Independent Group - is made up of the 11 MPs who quit Labour and the Conservative parties earlier this year. Across the UK it is fielding 70 candidates in the Euro pean Election.
Change UK are a pro-Remain party who back another referendum on Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats are another pro-Remain party standing in the European Elections. They launched a Stop Brexit manifesto as the lynchpin to their campaign, which includes:
Europe to adopt a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050
An emergency £7.5bn support fund for those affected by Brexit uncertainty
The extensions of rights for EU citizens in the UK including the ability to stand and vote in elections
The Brexit Party, is headed by Nigel Farage, at its launch for the European Election the party concentrated on the failure of the UK’s two main parties to deliver on the 2016 Referendum, declaring: “You can go to the ballot box and you can reiterate that message that you gave in 2016 that you just want to leave the EU.
“We are just about making sure that Brexit is delivered, and that’s what people voted for, that’s what they wanted, that’s what they expected.
At UKIP’s launch for the European Elections voters were urged to back the party “to enable us to continue the struggle to set Britain free from the EU”.
UKIP’s policy includes: no second referendum, leaving the EU by means of unilateral and unconditional withdrawal; offering the EU the choice of continued tariff-free trade or World Trade Organisation terms; and offering reciprocal rights to citizens.
The party believes the Government needs to stop asking the European Union how it can leave and start telling them how it’s going to happen.
SCOTLAND’S MEP CANDIDATES
SNP: Alyn Smith; Christian Allard; Aileen McLeod; Margaret Ferrier; Heather Anderson and Alex Kerr
Labour: David Martin; Jayne Baxter; Craig Miller; Amy Lee Fraioli; Callum O’Dwyer and Angela Bretherton
Conservative: Baroness Nosheena Mobarik; Iain McGill; Shona Haslam; Iain Whyte; Andrea Gee and Michael Kusznir.
Greens: Maggie Chapman; Lorna Slater; Gillian Mackay; Chas Booth; Mags Hall and Allan Faulds
Liberal Democrats: Sheila Ritchie; Fred Mackintosh; Catriona Bhatia; Vita Zaporozcenko; John Edward and Clive Sneddon
Change UK: David MacDonald; Peter Griffiths; Kate Forman; Heather Astbury; Colin McFadyen and Cathy Edgeworth.
The Brexit Party: Louis Stedman-Bruce; Karina Walker; James Ferguson-Hannah; Stuart Waiton; Paul Aitken and Calum Walker
UKIP: Donald MacKay; Janice MacKay; Otto Inglis; Mark Meechan; Roy Hill and Neil Wilson
Independent: Gordon Edgar and Ken Parke