SNP MP Angela Crawley Talks Brexit, Theresa May And Equality

'May's record on equality leaves a lot to be desired'
Angela Crawley

“There’s a democratic deficit that exists and it has never been more apparent than during the EU Referendum,” says Angela Crawley, one of the 59 SNP MP’s to be elected to Westminster last year.

The Lanark and Hamilton East MP tells the Huffington Post UK of her frustration that despite Scotland’s overwhelming vote to Remain in the EU, they will be “dragged out against their will.”

Scotland voted in favour of the UK staying in the EU by 62% to 38% - with all 32 council areas backing Remain.

The 62% is a figure that bothers the 29-year-old spokesperson for Women and Equalities, who believes there is a huge need to reform the “draconian” systems of Westminster in order to make it fairer.

“If you take the General Election and the First Past The Post [FPTP] system, Scotland overwhelmingly voted for the SNP to represent them.

“Yet no matter how strong our voice is and no matter how effectively we oppose the Tories - sometimes even more effectively than the official opposition, which is Labour’s job - we’re still in the same position where nothing is progressing and no one’s life is getting better,” Crawley tells HuffPost UK.

“In Scotland the entire country voted overwhelmingly to remain, over 60%, and I’m not disregarding those in the 20% - 30% population who felt strongly enough to leave.”

“What [The EU Ref] does highlight that is there is a democratic deficit - even when Scotland overwhelmingly votes to remain in the European Union, we are dragged out against our will”

Though it isn’t just the EU Referendum that has highlighted the “fault of the Westminster system” with the MP, who hits out at some of the current leadership bids plaguing Labour and the Conservatives.

“When you look at the candidates coming forward for leadership of both the Labour party and the Conservatives - I mean aside from the fact that I can find fault in most of them for one reason or another - it just highlights the fault of the entire Westminster system.

“I don’t have an influence on who the next leader will be of either the Conservative party or the Labour party but I genuinely hope for the benefit of the whole of the UK, the leader is someone who is progressive and is taking the charge forward. Instead of someone who is going to drag us back into the right-wing dark ages of draconian laws,” says Crawley.

Her passion for equality was apparent when discussing the next probable Conservative leader, Theresa May.

“The future Prime Minister is a woman, and that is a great symbol for equality, yet her record on equality issues leaves a lot to be desired. Theresa May’s record on LGBTI rights in her role as Home Secretary has been lacking to say the least”

“She not only supported scrapping the Human Rights Act and leaving the European Convention on Human Rights - both of which have protected and promoted human rights in the UK and internationally - but she has also backed the introduction of employment tribunal fees (making it costly and difficult for people to take rogue employers to court if they face discrimination), and she has done little to reform the appalling way our asylum system treats people fleeing persecution,” Crawley told the HuffPost UK.

The SNP MP also added her voice to the Labour Party election race, amid news that Angela Eagle will contest Jeremy Corbyn for leadership.

“The Labour Party’s role as opposition to the Government has never been more important than now in the wake of Brexit, yet the party has focused more on divisive in-fighting than on fighting for the best interests of the country.

“The focus instead should be on tackling the Tories. Splits in the Conservative Party between leave and remain camps could have allowed Labour to show a united front and tackle the Government, but this just hasn’t happened,” Crawley said.

LESLEY MARTIN via Getty Images

Among a batch of twentysomething SNP-ers to arrive in London back in 2015, Crawley is a firm believer in that the lack of diversity in Parliament - age, race, sexuality - is at the heart of why it struggles to engage.

Part of the committee that launched the first inquiry into the lives of transgender people, Crawley tells HuffPost UK that she strives for equality for LGBT people.

She says that she’s proud of being part of one of the “gayest Parliament’s in the world” but points out that there is currently no out trans person in Westminster.

Although never personally experiencing homophobia within Westminster, Crawley doesn’t excuse it as a reason for it not improving - and uses Hollyrood as an example of the future.

“This is one of the gayest parliaments in Europe, it has such a high proportion of LGB representatives, but if you think about what that actually means, you’ve got a smattering of LGB MP’s in Labour, Conservatives and the SNP.

“In fact I think there’s now 8 out of the 56 SNP MP’s so that actually makes us the highest proportion of LGB MP’s”.

“If you compare Westminster to Scotland for example you have the leader of the opposition in Scotland who is a lesbian and out, you have the leader of the Scottish Labour party who is a lesbian and out and you have the leader of the Scottish Green Party who is gay and male and out,” she tells HuffPost UK.

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