LAST week we welcomed our prime minister, Theresa May, to Stirling where she gave an impassioned speech about the future of the United Kingdom and the Union that holds us together as one united country.

The prime minister spoke brilliantly and movingly about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us as a country, and the importance of working together to get through them and make the most of the future together.

This builds upon a speech the deputy prime minister, and my boss as PPS to the Cabinet Office, David Lidington who spoke to the Law Society of Scotland last month about the future of devolution.

The speech, which was given to mark twenty years of devolution in Scotland, set out the UK Government’s vision for the future of devolution throughout the United Kingdom, and especially in Scotland.

I want to quote part of that speech, as I think it gets to the heart of where we are just now and where we go next.

It read: “Our vision for the nations of the United Kingdom is of strong devolved parliaments within a strong United Kingdom.

"Not as some half-in-half-out compromise. Nor something to tolerate reluctantly. Nor a temporary stepping stone to a different constitutional future. But as the settled state.

"Because devolution is not something that sits in opposition to being a unionist. It goes hand in hand."

I wholeheartedly agree with everything both the prime minister and deputy prime minister have said. Nor should we underestimate the importance of the deputy prime minister and prime minister making speeches about our country – the UK – here in the very heart of Scotland.

Both expressed a desire to move past division and accept that there are devolved administrations and central government, and that both levels of government need to work together for the people of Scotland.

It is also important that we remember the centuries of shared history and culture together as one United Kingdom.

These are important ties that link us together, from Clackmannanshire to Cardiff, from Alloa to Andover, or from Coalsnaughton to Coleraine, each has influenced the other in ways we can sometimes only imagine.

From having lived in different parts of the UK, and around the world, it is clear we have more in common than separates us, and the importance of working together in the coming years has never been greater.

One of the most important pieces of legislation that we have passed in Westminster has been the UK Government’s ‘Net Zero 2050’ bill. This is a major step towards addressing the issue of climate change which is going to increasingly affect all of our lives in the future.

This is an enormous commitment from government, a trillion pounds worth of investment into changing how we tackle our carbon footprint so that we are a Net Zero emissions country by the middle of the century.

While this will mean we will have to challenge some of the existing assumptions about how we get our energy, in our use of fossil fuels for example, it will also present a number of new opportunities to develop our renewable sector and create jobs in those industries.

As always, if you have any issues/concerns please contact me at my office on 38 Primrose Street, Alloa, by phone on 01259 764407, or by email –