New Year messages: Scotland ‘centre of international attention’

The Scottish political leaders have all issued their new year messages

Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland will be at the “centre of international attention” in 2020 in her New Year message.

The first minister led Scotland’s party leaders in issuing her hopes for 2020.

Jackson Carlaw, interim leader for the Scottish Conservatives, was optimistic about Britain leaving the EU.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Brexit and Donald Trump were some of the biggest challenges facing the UK over the next year.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack looked ahead to delivering a Brexit for Scottish farmers, fishermen and businesses, while Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard spoke of the climate emergency and tackling poverty.

Nicola Sturgeon, first minister

Ms Sturgeon’s message highlighted the UN climate change summit in Glasgow in November as a key date for the year ahead, which she said would give Scotland the chance to show it is leading by example.

Addressing the UK’s scheduled exit from the EU in January, the SNP leader sought to reassure EU citizens and said the Scottish government would work towards giving people the opportunity to “determine Scotland’s future”.

“As we celebrate the start of 2020 and a new decade, we look forward to a year in which Scotland will be at the centre of international attention,” she said.

‘Leading by example’

“In November, the United Nations climate change summit in Glasgow will attract more than 30,000 people from around the world.

“Hopefully that summit will lead to progress in tackling the most important issue that the world faces.

“And it will give Scotland a chance to show that we are leading by example – not just by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions but by doing so in a way that helps to build a fairer, healthier and happier society.”

The first minister added: “The Glasgow summit comes near the end of what will be a historic year.

“Against the wishes of most people in Scotland, we will leave the European Union at the end of January. That will, I know, be a source of deep regret for many of us.

“In the year ahead, the Scottish government will do everything we can to mitigate the worst impacts of Brexit.

“We will provide support and reassurance for the EU citizens who have done us the honour of choosing to make Scotland their home.

“And we will work to ensure that people in Scotland have the chance to determine our own future – by deciding whether we wish to become an independent country.

“In all of this we will continue to ensure that Scotland remains an open, outward-looking and welcoming society.”

Jackson Carlaw, interim Scottish Conservative leader

n his own New Year message, interim Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw spoke of his optimism that the UK can move on from a “decade of division”.

“In the next few weeks, we will finally be leaving the European Union and delivering on the referendum we held in 2016,” he said.

“The first thing to say is to speak directly to European citizens living in Scotland and the UK.

“We may be leaving the institutions of the European Union at the end of the month but the UK and Europe remain united by our shared continent.

“This is your home and we want you to stay.”

He added: “The fallout from the referendum result has created huge tensions across the country.

“I hope that, once we have left Brussels at the end of this month, those tensions will dissipate and we can come back together.

“It is time to move on from the decade of division.”

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats leader

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Brexit and Donald Trump were among the challenges facing the UK over the next year.

“Around the globe, dark currents have buffeted liberal democracy,” he said in his message.

“Boris Johnson’s Brexit threatens to cut us off from our European neighbours, while Donald Trump’s trade wars and Twitter tirades threaten to undo America’s status as a global leader.

‘A brighter future’

“These are the challenges we must face up to over the next 12 months.”

He added: “Closer to home there are huge challenges, too.

“From long waits for mental health treatment to the bungled roll-out of the new childcare entitlement, Liberal Democrats will highlight, debate and scrutinise the government so that everyone can rely on great public services that help them to build a brighter future.”

Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour leader

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “New Year is a time for reflection and it’s also a time for resolve.

“So we should resolve, this New Year, and in this coming decade to build a better society, one which is free from poverty and inequality. Where we don’t walk by on the other side.

“A society where we recognise there is a climate emergency and take action.

“And a society where we are not putting borders and national boundaries up – but we are bringing them down.

“Let’s resolve to work together to build that better society. Happy New Year.”

Lorna Slater, Scottish Greens co-leader

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater said the country had come to the end of a very difficult year and faced an uncertain future.

“The new UK government should make us fear the worst for vulnerable people in our society, for intolerance and for the rights of our EU citizens,” she said.

“With the new year we need to find new hope. While we can hope for a separate path for Scotland we can also begin to build a new Scotland now.”

She said that by being “bold and progressive”, Scotland could be “even more distinct” and lead the way in the UK.

“We can all play a part in this. Looking out for each other and showing solidarity can be an act of rebellion,” she said.

‘Radical action’

She said the world climate summit COP26, which is coming to Glasgow in 202 “should be profoundly shameful to both the UK government and the Scottish government, as neither has taken any realistic or practical action to avert the climate catastrophe that is bearing down upon all of us”.

She added: “An emergency requires immediate radical action, which they haven’t taken. Here, too, we must build the resistance; we know that our children deserve a future.

“Taking to the streets with our young people to hold those governments to account is one of the things I look forward to most this year. We can avert catastrophe and build a better future together.

“Happy New Year from the Scottish Greens. We look forward to rebelling with you.”

Alister Jack, Scottish Secretary (Conservative)

In his message, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack looked ahead to Brexit.

He said: “In one month’s time, at 23:00 on Friday 31 January 2020, Scotland and the rest of the UK will be out of the EU, marking a whole new chapter in our country’s history.

“I am proud to be Secretary of State for Scotland as we finally achieve this.

“After years of wasteful debate and delay, the UK government’s strong majority in the Commons means, finally, we can get Brexit done.

“We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum and deliver a Brexit that works for Scottish farmers, fishermen and businesses.”

He added: “We are stronger and more prosperous as a union of nations. Let’s put the rancour and division behind us and look forward to a better future together.

“I believe 2020 will be a year of growth and opportunity, as we work to boost the prosperity of every part of the UK.

“Let’s all raise a glass at midnight to a united, peaceful and prosperous Scotland in 2020.”

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