|Member of the Scottish Parliament|
for South Scotland
|Assumed office |
5 May 2016
|Political party||Scottish National Party|
Emma Harper is a Scottish National Party (SNP) politician. She has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the South Scotland region since the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.
Harper was born and raised on a farm near Stranraer where her father was a dairyman. She attended Stranraer Academy. In 1978, the family moved to a farm near Annan and she attended Annan Academy prior to her nurse training in Dumfries at the Royal College of Nursing and Midwifery.
Harper has worked in hospitals in NHS Scotland and NHS England, and at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, United States. Her work included: transplant and trauma surgery, before going on to lead nursing surgical teams and provide specialist clinical education.
Harper is a degree-registered nurse and a member of the Royal College of Nursing and the Association for Perioperative Practice.
As a keen Burnsian, Harper is past president of Dumfries Ladies Burns Club Number 1.
Harper joined the SNP in 2010.
In 2015 she stood for the UK Parliament as SNP candidate for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale. She finished second and achieved a huge swing of +27.5% of the vote for the SNP, narrowly losing the seat by only 798 votes.
In 2016 she was elected MSP to the Scottish Parliament for South Scotland (region), and was deputy covenor to the Health and Sport Committee and member of the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee.
In 2019 she downplayed the issues around creating a new currency in an independent Scotland to a BBC audience, remarking that her recent holiday to Mexico demonstrated that, "plastic translates anywhere where you are"; she then claimed Scottish issued bank notes could be worth more than English ones on the foreign exchange markets: "Our Scottish pounds have the propensity to be really really strong".
She was the top SNP candidate on the regional list in South Scotland at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.
During the campaign she courted controversy when she told ITV that a hard border between an independent Scotland and England would bring opportunities, insisting: "We can show that a border will work, there are issues that have been brought to my attention that show that jobs can be created if a border is created." Her party leader, Nicola Sturgeon, disavowed the remarks and claimed: “I've not seen Emma's comments directly but nobody in the SNP wants to see a border between Scotland and England." In an opinion piece for The Scotsman, former Labour MP Brian Wilson remarked of the controversy: "First, in the real world, Scotland does more trade with Yorkshire than with China. Second, Ms Harper is a star in the SNP firmament, placed top of their regional list and a racing cert to return to Holyrood. Ye gods."
Harper was re-elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2021.