In the lead-up to the 2016 EU Referendum, all the political leaders in Scotland were telling the voters to vote to remain in the European Union. It was therefore perhaps unsurprising that in Scotland the result was 62/38 for Remain. But what if the Scottish Conservatives, or senior figures in the Party, or other parties had campaigned for Leave? The result would have been closer, the one million who voted Leave (more than vote SNP) would have been larger and less easy for nationalists to delegitimise. In short this would have been an opportunity for the Scottish Conservatives, but one that was not taken. Instead, the cosy Remain consensus in Scotland has continued leading to friction between the Scottish leadership and London, some of which we have seen very recently.

My thoughts at the time were if the Scottish Conservatives had campaigned for Leave, the Union would be stronger, and they could have capitalised on that more. Being at the time a young fifteen-year-old schoolboy, I vividly remember the lead-up to the vote, undertaking my own research into the European Union, and then read into both arguments for Leave and Remain. I concluded that the United Kingdom, but particularly in Scotland (where I am from) would be better off outside the EU.

The reasons for this being firstly that the UK had to adhere to the EU Customs Union and Single Market, which hence restricted the UK being able to strike free trade deals with other countries. Since leaving the EU, the UK Government has struck seventy trade deals with countries around the world, which will benefit Scotland massively. Take the New Zealand-UK trade deal recently agreed, Scotland’s food and drink sectors will receive a boost, as well as the auto industry with the removal of tariffs between five per-cent and ten per-cent on vehicles. Edinburgh’s financial services will also benefit with easier access to New Zealand’s market, with easier trade and business travel. The potential for Scottish products in states that have no EU trade deal are also large – Scotch whiskey sales to India are currently held up by ludicrous taxes.

The SNP Government continually repeat there urge to turn Scotland independent and somehow re-join the EU immediately afterwards. The EU poses a real issue to the SNP as it would inevitably create an EU border friction with the rest of the UK, as the other three nations would not be members of the EU. According to the latest Scottish Governments figures, Scotland trades £50.2 billion with the rest of the UK, as opposed to 16.2 billion with the EU.

Scottish trades like manufacturing, food, and drink, as well as Gas and Renewables to name a few would surely be massively alarmed at the thought of friction between the Scots-English border, as Scotland trades with the rest of the UK by far the most. Scotland exported £51.2 billion to the rest of the UK in 2018. The underlying fundamental principal itself is that if Scotland where to somehow become independent and an EU member state, it would cause untold misery on business and the economy.

Similarly, in the Northeast of Scotland, the small fishing towns of Scotland where the most leave votes were recorded in Scotland in the 2016 referendum, are already reaping the rewards of Brexit. Since The UK Fisheries Act 2020 being passed and implemented, Scot’s fishermen are now able to catch fish in Scots waters, without impediment. The new system has also been quoted as being ‘modern and improves data availability. Free Trade Agreements including fisheries and whiskey, removes tariffs on imports and crucially provide savings of near £2.7 million annually. The FTAs have brought massive support to Scottish Fisheries, with more coming potentially in 2026. The UK Government is due to continue to work with the Scottish fishing industries, to make the process as smooth as possible.

Scottish Conservatives should champion these benefits and argue for more – in England Conservatives are campaigning for a free port in Teesside, why not a similar campaign for a post Brexit free port in somewhere like Aberdeen? Scotland can take advantage of new regulatory freedoms, Scotland’s world class pharmaceutical industries, science and technology, all areas the Scottish Conservatives should be pushing for benefits, rather than echo the misery guts in the SNP.

With myself being a Law student, I also saw the issue of sovereignty, and how the European Union were effectively ruling over large parts of British Judiciary, and business. Under the European Court of Jurisdiction, as which we had to abide by as a member of the EU, seemed to be rather strange and bizarre. Surely the country we live in should simultaneously make and be bound by its own laws? Even in Scotland where we have our own legal system, now we are free of EU Law, we can proceed to be more legally sovereign, and crucially have more legal powers.

To conclude, although the SNP rehearse the argument that the majority of Scot’s voted Remain which is true, over a million voted to leave the EU. This is a political opportunity for Scottish Conservatives that is currently being ignored by the Remain party leadership. As part of a sovereign United Kingdom together intact, we can stride forward together, becoming an independent free global Britain striking numerous advantageous trade deals. It is this vision that will see Scotland prosper, together, in an independent United Kingdom.