Labour moves on EU referendum a blow to No camp

Moves by Labour to join the Tories in backing an in-out referendum on EU membership show that the threat to Scotland’s membership of the EU comes from Westminster.

Reports in today’s Guardian make clear that Labour’s shadow cabinet is considering trying to force a referendum on EU membership before 2015, by tabling amendments to a private members bill being pursued by Tory MP James Wharton.

The article suggests that such a referendum could be timed to coincide with next year’s European Parliament elections in May, raising the prospect of a Yes vote for an independent Scotland in September 2014 becoming the only way for Scotland to remain in Europe.

Opinion polling in Scotland has consistently shown that a majority of Scots favour EU membership, while the surge in support for UKIP taking place south of the border has failed to materialise in Scotland, with the party again failing to save its deposit in the recent Aberdeen Donside by-election.

A Panelbase poll last month showed that support for independence rises to 44%, with opposition also at 44%, in the circumstances of the UK leaving the EU.

Commenting, SNP MSP Clare Adamson who sits on the European and External Relations Committee said:

“Labour’s decision to follow the lead of the Tories shows where their real priorities lie and is a hammer blow to the anti-independence No campaign.

“It is now indisputable that the threat to Scotland remaining in Europe comes from remaining part of a Westminster system that is out of step with the desires of people in Scotland.

"We know from the most recent poll that support for independence rises to 44 per cent - level pegging with opposition - in the context of Westminster exiting Europe.

“People in Scotland want to play an active, engaged role in the EU and the only way that is possible is with a Yes vote for an independent Scotland in next year’s referendum.

“The biggest source of uncertainty on Scotland’s future is clearly coming from Westminster parties who are more interested in their own political games than responding to what people in Scotland want.

“With a Yes vote in next year’s referendum, Scotland will gain the right to speak with our own voice in Europe and ensure that the needs of people in Scotland are always heard at every turn.”

The Guardian’s report of Labour moves to back a referendum on EU membership can be viewed at http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jun/28/labour-early-vote-uk-eu-m...

A poll by Ipsos MORI earlier this year found that 53% of people in Scotland would vote to stay in the EU compared to 34% who would vote to leave. http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/scotland-attitudes-towards-E...

Details of last month’s Panelbase poll can be viewed at http://www.snp.org/media-centre/news/2013/may/snp-support-remains-2011-l...