In light of the UK’s departure from the EU, the argument for a second Scottish independence referendum has resurfaced. It comes as many argue Scots have a right to determine whether they remain a part of the EU, as the country voted overwhelmingly to remain a part of the bloc in 2016.
One audience member during last night’s BBC Question Time, however, made the point against a second referendum, arguing that more thought must be put into nation’s domestic issues such as drug deaths.
He said: “I think we’ve learnt from the Brexit process is that division doesn’t drive progress in this country.
“We’ve been told no to independence.
“It’s time for us to stop debating it, and to instead debate how we’re going to solve the problem of high drug deaths in this country, how we’re going to solve child poverty, because it’s not happening.
SNP: The audience member said Scotland needs to focus on issues like drug deaths rather than indepen
“We need to discuss it instead of independence.”
According to the National Records of Scotland, Scotland has the highest death rate in the EU, with deaths soaring to the highest levels in 2019 since records began in 1996.
The country’s drug death rate is also nearly three times higher than that of the UK of a whole.
The 2019 figures also means Scotland has a higher drug death are than the one reported for the US, which was previously thought to be the highest rate in the world.
There were more than 70,000 drug deaths in the US 2017 but the rate of 217 per million of the population is now marginally lower than Scotland’s rate, 218.
There are said to be about 60,000 problem drug users in Scotland, which has a population of 5.4million people.
Dr Saket Priyadarshi, of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde addiction services, told MPs in 2019 that Scotland had a much higher drug death rate than the rest of the UK because it had far more problem users.
He also said that Scottish users were taking a lethal cocktail of drugs that often combined opiates such as heroin and methadone with benzodiazepines, pills often known as street valium or street blues.
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Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, is thought to be pushing for a second independence vote for the latter half of 2020.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has, however, consistently refused the idea of another vote.
Many against it have cited the fact that Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minster at the time of the 2014 referendum, said it was a once in a “generation” vote.
Yet, advocates argue Brexit has changed Scotland’s course.
Tom Tugendhat, a Tory MP on the panel of Question Time, expressed his exasperation of another vote in light of what he said is “distracting politicians from serving the people”.
Of the referendum, he said: “I find it very sad because this isn’t an economic argument for me, this isn’t an argument over whether Scotland is big enough or too small, or whether England would be better or worse without Scotland.
“For me, this is a fundamental argument about who we are as a people, and when I look around these islands, I’m not a foreigner in Dundee.
“This is our country we share it - we share it together.
“I find it incredibly sad when people talk in a way that splits us, divides us.
“And I know politicians of all sides do it, so I’m not making a partisan point, but I do find it deeply sad, when these islands have done amazing things over the last 300 years.
“We have brought a lot to the world and a force for good over many years and i think it is a real sadness to perhaps see that being thrown away.”
It comes amid ever increasing tensions bubbling away between Holyrood and Westminster.
The former COP26 climate summit manager and Tory MP, Claire O’Neill, revealed that Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon had been at a loggerheads over the event’s planning.
According to The Sun, when Ms O’Neill suggested Mr Johnson offer Ms Sturgeon a formal role in the proceedings, Mr Johnson replied: “Over my f**king dead body.
“I’m not being driven out of Scotland by that bloody Wee Jimmy Krankie woman.”
Meanwhile, Ms O’Neill has accused the SNP of making logistics around the event difficult, double booking rooms needed for the summit, for example.