20th February 2018
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We’re Norskies really, suggests MSP

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Shetland and Orkney MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur have sent a joint submission to the Scottish government on the constitutional future of the Northern Isles.

Their move comes just before the visit by Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg to Shetland this week.

Mr Scott said: “Liam McArthur and I have highlighted what we believe are the different and distinct perspectives that our constituencies have towards any future constitutional change.

“We advocate more powers and responsibilities for the Northern Isles. Five years of nationalism in Edinburgh has been five years of centralisation. Control of colleges, police and fire are all being removed from the islands. The nationalist government now promotes laws that will push up tenants’ rents in Shetland and could cost jobs and investment in the salmon farming industry.

“To top all this there is now growing uncertainty over the future contract for our lifeline ferry services. It is not hard to conclude that the islands themselves would be better placed to make such decisions.”

Mr McArthur said: “As is evident from the very poor showing of SNP candidates in the recent council elections, support within the Northern Isles for separation from the rest of the UK remains low. Nevertheless, there is an appetite in both Orkney and Shetland for looking at improving the current constitutional arrangements so that they better reflect and respond to the needs and aspirations of islanders.

“In response to what is seen as an alarming tendency by the current Scottish government to wish to centralise decision-making and place more and more control in the hands of ministers, there is increasing support within Orkney and Shetland for measures that will redress that balance.”

Mr Scott added: “It is certainly the case that many Shetlanders feel a Norse connection rather than a Scottish one. These sentiments are sure to be echoed on Wednesday and Thursday when we welcome the Norwegian prime minister to the islands.

“Our cultures remain closely linked and I think the visit will reignite discussions about Shetland’s constitutional future amongst the islanders.”

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