Demonstrators protest outside Scottish Labour's Gala Dinner this evening. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Ed Miliband's speech to Scottish Labour's Gala Dinner: full text

"I will fight with you with every fibre of my being over these months to show how we can change Scotland," says the Labour leader. 

“We meet here after a tough week for our party in Scotland and after an extraordinary year when Scotland has gone through a profound debate about its future.

“We meet here proud that in September we won the battle to keep our country together.

“And we meet here above all determined to fight to show the Scottish people that Labour can be the change they want to see.

“We heard in the referendum about what the people of Scotland want. There is a deep desire for economic and political change.

“The referendum rejected separation. However much the SNP may try and rewrite the result, the Scottish people voted for us to stay together.

“It means democratic change with more powers for a stronger Scottish Parliament.

“That’s why we are entering the Smith Commission in good faith, working to the timetable that Gordon Brown set down during the referendum campaign.

“We will deliver a Parliament with more control over tax, jobs and welfare.

“We will deliver on a new Scotland Act in our first Queen’s Speech.

“And we will do what the SNP has not done and will never do: deliver an agenda that meets the needs of working people in Scotland.

“We’ll reintroduce a 50p tax rate for people earning over £150,000.

“We’ll tax bankers’ bonuses to pay for guaranteed jobs for our young people.

“We’ll end exploitative zero hours contracts.

“We’ll freeze gas and electricity bills until 2017 and tackle the rip off energy markets.

“And we’ll increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour.

“A pay rise for 100,000 Scots.

“We are just over six months from the general election.

“I look forward to working shoulder to shoulder with whoever the party in Scotland elects as leader to win that election.

“Over its history we have seen the Scottish Labour Party fight for the values our movement holds dear.

“We face a tough fight but no tougher than the fights we have faced in the past.

“The fight for workers’ rights 100 years ago which Scottish Labour led and won.

“The fight for an NHS which Scottish Labour led and won.

“The fight to get rid of the Tories in 1997 and establish a Scottish Parliament which Scottish Labour led and won.

“And the fight to keep our country together which Scottish Labour led and won.

“In the next six months I know the Scottish Labour Party will fight every hour and every day to deliver the changes the working people of Scotland need to improve their lives.

“And I will fight with you with every fibre of my being over these months to show how we can change Scotland.

“Together let's win this fight to change Scotland and change Britain.”
Photo: Getty
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The Brexiteers have lost battles but they are still set to win the war

The prospect of the UK avoiding Brexit, or even a “hard” version, remains doubtful. 

Before the general election, the Brexiteers would boast that everything had gone their way. Parliament had voted to trigger Article 50 by a majority of 372. The Treasury-forecast recession hadn't occurred. And polls showed the public backing Brexit by a comfortable margin

But since the Conservatives' electoral humbling, the Leavers have been forced to retreat on multiple fronts. After promising in May that the dispute over the timetable for the Brexit talks would be "the fight of the summer", David Davis capitulated on the first day.

The UK will be forced to settle matters such as EU citizens' rights, the Irish border and the divorce bill before discussions begin on a future relationship. Having previously insisted that a new trade deal could agreed by 29 March 2019 (Britain's scheduled departure date), the Brexiteers have now conceded that this is, in Liam Fox's words, "optimistic" (translation: deluded). 

That means the transitional arrangement the Leavers once resisted is now regarded as inevitable. After the eradication of the Conservatives' majority, the insistence that "no deal is better than a bad deal" is no longer credible. No deal would mean the immediate return of a hard Northern Irish border (to the consternation of the Tories' partners the DUP) and, in a hung parliament, there are no longer the votes required to pursue a radical deregulatory, free market agenda (for the purpose of undercutting the EU). As importantly for the Conservatives, an apocalyptic exit could pave the way for a Jeremy Corbyn premiership (a figure they previously regarded as irretrievably doomed). 

Philip Hammond, emboldened by the humiliation of the Prime Minister who planned to sack him, has today outlined an alternative. After formally departing the EU in 2019, Britain will continue to abide by the rules of the single market and the customs union: the acceptance of free movement, European legal supremacy, continued budget contributions and a prohibition on independent trade deals. Faced with the obstacles described above, even hard Brexiteers such as Liam Fox and Michael Gove have recognised that the game is up.

But though they have lost battles, the Leavers are still set to win the war. There is no parliamentary majority for a second referendum (with the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats still enfeebled), Hammond has conceded that any transitional arrangement would end by June 2022 (the scheduled date of the next election) and most MPs are prepared to accept single market withdrawal. The prospect of Britain avoiding Brexit, or even a "hard" version, remains doubtful. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.