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Sun, 29 November 2020

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Gordon Brown: Scotland at risk of becoming 'one of the West's most divided countries'

Gordon Brown: Scotland at risk of becoming 'one of the West's most divided countries'
3 min read

Scotland is at risk of becoming "one of the West's most divided countries" because of the independence and Brexit referendums, Gordon Brown has warned.

The former Labour Prime Minister said his home nation had become "polarised by extreme positions" after a new YouGov poll found only 16% of Scots believed the country was united.

The poll of 2,500 people living in Scotland also found almost half (47%) believed the country would always remain divided over Brexit and Scottish independence.

A further 44% claimed they now had less trust in politicians, while over a third said they were now less likely to have conversations with casual acquaintances about politics.

Responding to the figures, Mr Brown, who is a vocal opponent of Scottish independence, said: “The poll shows Scotland is at risk of becoming one of the West’s most divided countries and stuck in a rut.

“I want us to break out of the trench warfare from which everyone loses out. We are divided because we have been polarised by extreme positions – either a no-change, status quo ‘do nothing‘ stance or an ever harder separation including now abandoning the UK pound.

“The poll shows that Scotland is not just more divided than at any time in my lifetime but these divisions could dominate our lives for many decades to come.”

'Cosmetic gestures'

Meanwhile, the former Prime Minister also hit out at Boris Johnson, accusing him of offering Scotland "cosmetic gestures" rather than new policies to break the deadlock.

“Scotland looks more like two nations, not the united country I’d like it to be,” he added.

“Divisions over independence and over a referendum are now spilling over into other areas – the future of the pound, the future of Scotland’s relations with Europe, the priorities we give to health, education and high-quality jobs and the environment.

“Nor is there any sign that existing policies can break the Scottish deadlock. Boris Johnson is not offering any new ideas to Scotland and the regions other than the current cosmetic gestures.

“This Punch and Judy cycle – with both sides dug in with all or nothing stances – has got to give way to common sense answers. I want to end the divisions with a plan to bring us back together again.”

But the SNP's depute leader in Scotland, Keith Brown, hit back at the former Prime Minister, accusing him of "siding with Boris Johnson".

"Mr Brown should be supporting the people of Scotland's democratic right to choose their own future, instead of siding with Boris Johnson," he said.

"Independence will allow us to protect our vital national interests and create a fairer, more prosperous country - instead of having policies imposed on us by a right-wing Tory government."


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