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SNP MP challenges leadership candidates on foreign policy


NP leadership candidates must put forward their foreign policy strategies to counter the threat of authoritarian regimes, an SNP MP has said.

Stewart McDonald, who served as his party’s Westminster defence spokesman from 2017 until 2022, has released a new paper for think tank Reform Scotland to make Scotland’s case for devolved foreign policy.

The Think Like a State, Act Like a State report urges future Holyrood administrations to assess the threat posed by hostile nations and lead a debate in how to counter the threat.

And he has told leadership candidates Ash Regan, Kate Forbes and Humza Yousaf that the next first minister must be in favour of Scotland’s place in the European Union and Nato.

A further recommendation urges Nicola Sturgeon’s replacement to recognise and enhance the value of Scotland’s defence manufacturing sector.

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The Glasgow South MP said: “The three candidates to be first minister have an opportunity to engage in a mature national debate about how the Scottish Government will deal with global and Europe issues that have such great impact on the Scottish people.

“The new first minister must demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of this county’s place in a world where states are more insular actors on the world stage and dominant geopolitical entities increasingly weaponise their economic prowess.

“We can start asking these questions now, and I am today challenging not only the candidates, but the media, to start asking and answering these questions.

This is a perfect opportunity for Scotland’s next first minister to make explicit their vision of Scotland as a flourishing society and good global citizen

“This is a perfect opportunity for Scotland’s next first minister to make explicit their vision of Scotland as a flourishing society and good global citizen.

“It is vital that the next first minister can author a bold, comprehensive and pragmatic strategy to protect Scotland’s interests and values in a world that is ever-changing and more complex and is underpinned by a keen understanding of the interplay between domestic and foreign policy. The moment demands nothing less.”

Chris Deerin, director of Reform Scotland, said: “In his five years as the SNP’s defence spokesperson at Westminster, Stewart McDonald proved himself a significant thinker on military and foreign affairs, and did much to enrich his party’s positioning in both areas.

“His call for the new first minister to develop a foreign policy strategy, and for the leadership candidates to explain what this might look like, raises an important issue at a timely moment – one that speaks as much to the future of devolved Scotland as it does to the SNP’s preference for an independent state.”

Kate Forbes said: “If I am elected first minister, I will lead a government that shows people why Scottish independence matters for our place in the world.

“It is not enough for any Scottish administration – and certainly not one I hope to lead – to point out the UK’s weaknesses.

“Instead, I will continue the excellent work of our outgoing First Minister in placing our foreign and external policy at the heart of any economic recovery.

“That is why, if elected first minister, I will not shy away from working with any UK party that wishes to improve our relations with the European Union: nor will I shy away from calling for the aid not only to protect Scotland’s competitive advantages we have in terms of renewable energy, but to ensure that our future global business leaders are not left behind by the UK’s fecklessness.”

Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan have also been contacted for comment.

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