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MSP Fergus Ewing: It is up to us to argue the case so we’re not short changed but he argues that Scotland’s funds under the UK plan have now been cut to 1.1 per cent of what they were under the EU and that 'is not a matter of theory or accounting' but it is 'both a tragedy and a disgrace'


By Andrew Dixon


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MSP Fergus Ewing's mother Winnie was known in Brussels as Madame Ecosse for her determined attitude to gaining what she could for the country.
MSP Fergus Ewing's mother Winnie was known in Brussels as Madame Ecosse for her determined attitude to gaining what she could for the country.

My mother Winnie Ewing was Scotland’s voice in Europe for 20 years, earning the beloved nickname Madame Ecosse – it is a good name for a politician to have earned.

She did so, because she always fought and stood up on the global stage for Scotland’s interests and opportunities, and in particular those of the Highlands and Islands which she represented for many years.

One cause in particular she fought tenaciously was the campaign to secure the “objective one” funding.

My mother had been told by the Tory government of her day not to try for funding as she would not be successful. Typically, as she was well known to do, she did not listen and pursued the matter vigorously. She succeeded.

Since that time, the European Union was and still is regarded as a good friend to the Highlands and Islands communities. Particularly so in development funding, which has enabled many a project to proceed.

As an example, the University of the Highlands and Islands benefits massively as a result of Scotland’s place in the European Union. Research carried out on behalf of Gaelic, life sciences and much more relies on EU funding, that as yet has no direct UK government replacement.

One of the main warnings issued about leaving the EU is that this funding may not be matched by the UK post-Brexit.

Well, this is precisely what has happened. Indeed, the funding reduction to Scotland is over 60 per cent, from £549 million over three years to £212 million.

For the Highlands, we previously received 19 per cent of Scotland’s funds from EU membership but under the UK plan this has now been cut to 1.1 per cent.

This is not a matter of theory or accounting. This means that there is far less funding for projects in the Highlands and Islands and that, frankly, is both a tragedy and a disgrace. Recently my SNP colleague, Richard Lochhead, MSP for Moray and minister for this matter, raised these concerns in his speech and the reply from others on the opposition benches did not rise above obfuscation.

As such, it falls to us now to argue the case and ensure that we continue to do so for the communities in the Highlands and Islands and of course the rest of Scotland, as my mother did nearly four decades ago.

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