My role as your MP always remains the same, doing what I can to promote this constituency, protect and help our people and communities to the best of my abilities, and seek hope and opportunity for those living, working and building businesses here.
However, my portfolio role at Westminster has changed – I am now SNP Westminster lead for Foreign Affairs, sitting on the cross-party Foreign Affairs committee. It seems a natural progression, and I am determined to use this new responsibility to advance your interests. That is why our people and our economy were front and foremost in my mind as I travelled to Washington DC, visiting the White House and Congress, last week. It was a busy, if tiring, two-day visit, but it was also highly successful. I had numerous meetings with both Democrat and Republican members of Congress, along with Senators and MPs of other nations whilst there.
Engaging with our US counterparts is vital. Firstly, it helps mitigate the harmful effects of Brexit on Scotland, as MPs can discuss potential trade opportunities and ways to enhance economic relationships between Scotland and the US. The shared historical links between Scotland and the US provide a foundation for continued and developing friendship and cooperation and are strengthened through face-to-face discussions.
For those who say, we should leave this to the UK Government, I ask them to look at the harm caused to Scotland and our international relations, around the globe, and particularly in the US, from Brexit, the failures to use energy policy to promote our renewable and innovations resources and the skills gap that they have created. The fact is, the UK isn’t working for us.
High on the agenda during discussions was renewable energy and the development of clean hydrogen, with a strong desire to explore potential opportunities for collaboration and investment in this field.
The US has the potential to be an even greater source of economic growth in the future. American visitors are valuable to Scotland’s tourism industry and the Highlands are home to a number of successful businesses, as noted, in renewable energy, but also in food and drink and life sciences sectors.
My visit highlighted the importance of building relations with my direct US counterparts and the vast opportunities to use this to help to secure a brighter future for the Highlands.