No one can be in any doubt that the third sector in Scotland is overwhelmingly pro-European.
SCVO’s engagement with the sector on Brexit over the past 18 months, found that over 80% of organisations felt that leaving the EU would negatively impact the Scottish economy, poverty & social exclusion, and human rights and equality. The majority also felt that EU policy priorities had been good for the third sector in Scotland.
Based on this, we have been consistent in our view that leaving the EU will be bad for Scotland and Scotland’s third sector, and that the UK Government’s approach to Brexit is undermining devolution.
SCVO – along with our colleagues at WCVA – have supported the Scottish and Welsh Government’s amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill. With WCVA, NICVA & the Wheel, we have also supported the UK staying in the Single Market and Customs Union.
It’s not an understatement to say we are in the midst of a political, constitutional & democratic crisis – what with the power grab by the UK Government, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and the failure of the Labour party (perhaps until now) to define its position and act like a real opposition party.
Earlier this week I spoke at the Brexit Civil Society Alliance Fringe event on the challenges forced on the devolved nations and regions as the UK prepares to leave the EU – and the ‘people’s vote’ was a very topical subject.
I commented at the event that supporting a ‘people’s vote’ could be seen as a natural extension of SCVO’s policy position on Brexit and the democratic deficit Scotland particularly finds itself in. And I explained that we plan to consult our Board, Policy Committee and member organisations about the possibility of a ‘people’s vote’ or second referendum on the UK’s EU membership.
The Scottish third sector has been very clear that not leaving the EU would be the best option – the only alternative being continued membership of the Single Market and Customs Union, which is essential for people and communities throughout Scotland, our economy, and ultimately the well-being of our society.
And it’s clear from the negotiations so far that the UK Government is simply not listening – to the Scottish Government or the third sector – so perhaps it can only be resolved by a people’s vote? It’s certainly something worth talking about.