Protests erupt as Theresa May visits Stirling

5 mins read

Over 100 people gathered in Stirling City Centre to protest Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to the city this afternoon (Thursday 4).

Crowds gathered outside of CodeBase Stirling, where May was scheduled to announce a devolution review at 4 p.m.

‘Yes’ flags, saltires, and pro-independence placards were waved by protesters of all ages, who had come to rebuke the soon-to-be ex-PM’s stance on Brexit, and more importantly, independence. 

The group ‘Stirling Students for Independence’ taped posters to the outside of the building. Flags were also hanging from flats above Baker Street as a message to the Prime Minister.

A group raised a banner reading “Tory Scum Out” across the front of the crowd, which led to some of the protesters standing in front of the banner claiming it was sending the wrong message. The banner was then moved across the road.

Passersby honked their horns in solidarity and one white van man said to a disabled protester: “she’ll take the wheelchair off you big man.” 

Conflict amongst the protest about the banner Credit: Harry Williamson

The crowd booed and chanted as May arrived by police escort and entered the building by the back entrance, making it impossible for locals to catch a glimpse of May’s final Scotland visit.

May was expected to announce a review into devolution which was criticised by some SNP politicians and supporters.

Alyn Smith MEP said: “In 2016, Stirling voted to remain in the EU by more than two-thirds. Mrs May’s got a cheek to come to lecture the people here about the importance of staying in the UK, when the government of the UK intends to rip us out of the EU at any cost.

“Mrs May could do the decent thing in her final days in office and revoke Article 50 – it’s not too late to stop this. Only then can we have a sensible discussion, without the distraction of a ticking clock, about our future with the EU, and how Scotland’s relationship with the UK fits into that.”

Stirling Students for Independence Credit: Harry Williamson

The former VP Communities, Jamie Grant, attended the protest and described May’s visit as “cowardly” as she had made no provision to meet the constituents of Stirling who elected a Conservative MP in 2017.

“For the Tories to treat Scotland with such contempt, May showing her face in Stirling is a brass neck.”

He showed scepticism at the announcement, claiming that “these reviews often have conclusions before they’ve even started.” Grant added that “if May and her Tory colleagues really cared about the union, then they would have pursued Devo Max in 2014 instead of half-assed devolution.”

Credit: Harry Williamson

Stirling’s Conservative MP Stephen Kerr spoke with Brig before the crowds had gathered and expressed delight that May had “finally accepted one of his many invitations to visit Stirling.” He described the visit as symbolic as this would be May’s last visit to Scotland as Prime Minister.

He reiterated his stance on devolution and his support of May’s announcement.

“The position is that the UK Government completely accepts the settled position in terms of devolution but what the Prime Minister will announce today is that the UK Government will conduct a review into how it works in terms of devolution.

“Since I was elected as Stirling’s MP two years ago I have constantly been seeking for the Government to do exactly what she is about to announce.

“I’m afraid that across Whitehall, the UK Government has not kept pace with the evolution journey of devolution,” he added.

Stephen Kerr said that Westminster has failed to keep pace with devolution Credit: Harry Williamson

When asked about speculation that Boris Johnson could lead to a second referendum on independence, Kerr criticised the SNP stating that they always look to beat the drum of their “superior motive of breaking up the union.”

Kerr has not yet publicly backed either Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson in the Tory leadership race, but has described them both as “strong unionists.”

Kerr said that when both candidates put forward detailed plans for how they will “protect the union” then he will be in a better position to choose who he will support.

Kerr welcomed May’s announcement, but did Stirling welcome May? Credit: Harry Williamson
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Freelance award-winning journalist | Best Journalist SPARC Scotland 2021 | Stirling Uni Class of 2021 | Former Deputy Editor - Brig Newspaper | Bylines in The Scottish Sun, The Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser, The Barrhead News, The (Renfrew and Johnstone) Gazette, Brig Newspaper, The Oban Times, Stirling Today and Tales From Lockdown.

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