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Brexit could take Scotland backwards, warns Nicola Sturgeon | UK News



The Scottish parliament is at a crossroads as it reaches its 20th anniversary, according to Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

On a weekend when the Queen will join celebrations to mark the parliament’s milestone, Ms Sturgeon told Sky News there is a risk it will be taken “backwards” by Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I think the story of the Scottish Parliament over the first 20 years of its existence has been one of real success.

“Of course, like all parliaments, it’s had its ups and downs – it’s undoubtedly made mistakes.

“But in 20 years which, in the grand sweep of history is not time at all, it has become firmly established as the democratic heart of the country and it’s got many policy successes to its credit, which is the work of parties across the political spectrum.

“Right now, the parliament, and Scotland indeed, is at something of a crossroads.

“Do we want our parliament to continue to develop, to gain more powers – in my view to become an independent parliament – or are we prepared to risk Brexit taking our parliament backwards? And these are the big debates for the future.”

The Queen will address MSPs inside the Scottish parliament chamber as part of a day of celebrations.

The parliament, as we know it today, “resumed” business on 1 July 1999 having been dissolved by the Acts of Union in 1707.

GLASGOW, UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 13:  Prime Minister Tony Blair and First Minister Jack McConnell make a keynote speech on the choice voters face on the future of Scotland before campaigning on April 13, 2007 in Glasgow, Scotland. The Scottish Parliament and council elections will be held on May 3. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
The modern version of parliament was delivered by Tony Blair’s Labour government

The modern version was delivered by Tony Blair’s Labour government following a referendum that backed devolution. Labour formed the first ruling administration in coalition with the Liberal Democrats until 2007.

Today, the SNP is the largest party at Holyrood.

The parliament has used its powers to pass a total of 293 pieces of legislation – notably on land reform, minimum pricing of alcohol, free personal care for the elderly and a smoking ban in public places.

In its early years, the parliament sat in temporary accommodation while the Holyrood building was being constructed amid much controversy over design, delay and cost.

The way that Holyrood does its politics was based on a study of different parliaments around the world.

In the Holyrood chamber, MSPs are sat in a hemicycle, a semi-circular shape.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - JULY 2:  Queen Elizabeth II speaks as Ken Macintosh, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh listen, during the opening of the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament on July 2, 2016 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom. (Photo by  Andrew Milligan/WPA Pool/Getty Images)
The Queen opening the fifth session of parliament in 2016

Ken Macintosh MSP, the parliament’s presiding officer, told Sky News: “It’s the typical European model, where you’re trying to create a sense of collective purpose and you’re trying to get all the members first of all to address their remarks through the chair but also to reach agreement. For the most part, it does work.

“We clap and sometimes people bang their desks. At Westminster, you’re not allowed to applaud but they go ‘hear, hear’ and they wave their papers around. In those days when Westminster was very male-dominated, it creates the impression of a sort of all-boys public school, I think, and we’re absolutely trying to get away from at.

“This institution, now, is the centrepiece of public life in Scotland. If people want to change things, they know they can bring it here, they know their voice will be heard here and they know it can make a difference.

“This parliament has helped Scotland change. I think, as a country, we’re more self-confident. Scotland feels that its decisions are being made by the Scottish people – even when they don’t like the decisions that are taken here, these are the decisions taken by Scots that reflect their views and I think people feel more in control of their own affairs and it’s made a huge difference to the country.”

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