The positive case for Europe and a new hope

Yesterday was Europe Day – the annual celebration of peace and unity in Europe. We marked 66 years since the Schuman Declaration, which set out the beginnings of the European Union.

What progress we have seen – the development of a community of 28 nations and a single market of 500 million people.

In contrast to these landmark achievements, the standard of debate around the UK’s EU membership, to date, has been at best puerile and at worst just outlandish scaremongering.

With support for the EU across the UK hanging in the balance, the Prime Minister should reboot the Remain campaign away from Project Fear mark 2.

There is an overwhelming need in the UK to reset the debate and focus on a positive campaign to highlight the great achievements of the European ideal.

Let there be no mistaking that whatever the outcome, Scotland will have its voice heard. My hope and purpose over the coming six weeks is to campaign for a resounding vote for the UK to remain in the EU.

However, as some polls suggest, should the result fall in favour of a English and therefore UK vote to leave but Scotland votes to remain, then the democratic decision becomes a constitutional conundrum.

That’s why First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been clear that such a material change would bring about a groundswell of anger loud enough to trigger a second Scottish independence referendum. Politicians and parties seeking to deny that right would be swept away by the political winds that would then be blowing.

We have 43 days to take this positive message to the voters; not be afraid of celebrating Europe’s achievements, whilst pointing out where we need to work together more constructively and set the agenda for a new Europe with renewed solidarity and reinvigorated economic progress.

We want a Europe that prioritises growth and recovery, a Europe which reclaims the concept of a social contact and a Europe that responds with solidarity and humanity when faced with a refugee crisis.

Europe must lead – the way it lifted itself 66 years ago today and resolved to work together for the better of all – to build a universal right and hope for every European citizen so that we can live together in peace and harmony.

Only the united resolve of its 28 Member States will see this achieved in full, and the UK must endeavour to turn its campaign for ‘remain’ into a force of hope and achievement.

Alex Salmond is MP for Gordon, and SNP International Affairs and Europe spokesperson at Westminster

Read Alex Salmond’s Europe Day speech at the European Policy Centre, Brussels.