ScottishFabiansScottish Fabians is hosting a half-day conference in Edinburgh this coming Saturday to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the EU referendum result. Sign up to attend here.


On 23 June the United Kingdom voted by 52% to 48% to leave the European Union. Scotland voted by 62% to 38% to remain in the EU. After a tumultuous summer, which saw the resignation of the Prime Minister and a leadership contest in the Labour Party, it is clear that we will leave the EU. Attention must now turn to the terms of our departure after 43 years of membership, and the economic, social, and constitutional consequences for Scotland and the UK.

So far, there has been little attempt from those on the political left to define Brexit or set out a compelling vision of what the UK might look like after leaving the European Union. But the need to do so is urgent. We also need to understand why so many voters in traditionally Labour areas voted to leave. There seem to be many reasons beyond the question asked in the referendum itself, but we have only just begun to unpick these.

Meanwhile, of course, the referendum result has put enormous strain on the relationships between the constituent parts of the UK.

On Saturday 8th October, the Scottish Fabians will host a half-day conference in Edinburgh, providing a much needed opportunity to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the EU referendum result. This important conference will consider what the referendum result means for Scotland and the UK and how progressives north and south of the border should respond.

The conference will address a number of questions:

  • What does Brexit mean for the future of the UK, and how can the Labour Party position itself in a new round of constitutional debate?
  • Does Labour need to develop a new vision of devolution for the post-Brexit era?
  • What does a future outside the EU have in store for Scotland?
  • What does the referendum result say about voters’ concerns and how can the left respond?
  • What lessons can Labour learn from the rise of nationalism and identity politics?

The conference will feature a keynote address from John Denham, former Labour MP for Southampton Itchen. John, who has written extensively about English identity in recent years, will discuss the rise of English nationalism and how it may have contributed to the EU referendum result. He will make some wider observations about the relationship between England and Scotland in the aftermath of Brexit. Ian Murray MP will also offer his thoughts.

As well as these high profile speakers, the conference will feature a panel discussion chaired by Sarah Boyack. Stephen Boyd, Assistant Secretary of the STUC, David Martin MEP, and Professor Nicola McEwan of the Centre on Constitutional Change at Edinburgh University will offer insights into the economic, social and constitutional aspects of Brexit. There will then be an opportunity for participants to discuss their own views around these themes.

This conference provides a great opportunity for progressives in Scotland to consider the referendum result and begin to work out how we should respond to Britain’s departure from the EU. The conference will run from 2pm to 5.15pm on Saturday at Central Hall, 2 West Tollcross, Edinburgh, EH3 9BP. You can sign up here. We look forward to seeing you.