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Scottish independence a safe and sensible choice, says ex-Tory councillor

Ashley Graczyk condemned welfare reforms as she revealed she now backs Scotland becoming independent.

A former Tory councillor has condemned Conservative Party policies as she revealed she now supports Scottish independence.

Ashley Graczyk said the “increasingly safe and sensible choice” is for Scotland to leave the UK but remain in the “heart of Europe”.

Ms Graczyk, who is profoundly deaf, also hit out at the “selfish” Conservative Government – which she said “looks for any excuse to not support disabled or vulnerable people and favours the rich”.

In an online post, the Edinburgh councillor said: “I have been brought up with the UK as my country and all my life I had seen the whole of the UK as my homeland. I don’t want to see new borders as I’m about finding new and practical ways to break down barriers and unite people.

“But I came to the realisation that to preserve and protect the values we have in Scotland, we cannot have policies imposed on us from Westminster that jar with the kind of Scotland we are trying to build. So simply, we need independence.

“Scotland’s traditional liberal values of freedom, tolerance, equality and individual rights need to be protected.

“The increasingly safe and sensible choice seems to be for Scotland to stay at the heart of Europe, independent and in control of our own destiny. It is time to embrace Yes with full confidence in our future.”

Ms Graczyk, who was elected to represent the Sighthill/Gorgie area of the capital in 2017, announced last week she had left the Conservative Party.

She voted against independence in the 2014 Scottish referendum, but has now set out the reasons behind her “journey from No to Yes”.

SNP leader and Scottish First Minister said the post is “well worth a read”.

She tweeted: “@ashleyannotate was elected in 2017 as a @ScotTories councillor. However, her experiences as a councillor – especially seeing the impact of welfare cuts on her constituents – led her to leave the Tories and support independence.”

Ms Graczyk hit out at the “impact of Conservative politics on people and communities”, claiming she had seen people “reduced to tears” as a result of welfare reforms.

She said the closure of the Access to Elected Office (UK) fund – which helps disabled people with some of the costs they have running for election – had been the “final straw”.

While the former Tory accepted an independent Scotland would face questions such as what currency to use, she said “new and practical solutions” to such issues can be found.

“Heck if we can invent televisions, telephones, penicillin and insulin to name a few, surely we can create ways to self-govern our country,” she said.

She recalled that during the local government election, she had “campaigned under the vision of ‘communities that work for everyone’”, but said she is now convinced “the Conservatives and the UK Government cannot deliver that aspiration”.

Stressing the need for a government “with a caring heart”, she said: “I believe it is time for Scotland to have political independence, to self-govern with the full freedom to build and shape Scotland’s future by our own hands, the kind of country we want it to be and the kind of government we want to have.”

Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, said: “This is a massive embarrassment for Ruth Davidson and the Tories – but, more importantly, it is yet another signal that more and more people are ready to reject a Brexit UK in favour of an independent Scotland.”

She added: “As more and more examples of Tory cruelty emerge – whether it is on welfare, disabilities, migration or anything else – more people will reconsider the benefits of independence, as Councillor Graczyk has done.”

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