Alyn Smith campaign launch: "Europe is our future, Westminster our past"

MEP makes bid for deputy leadership by focusing on european prize

ALYN SMITH MEP has officially launched his campaign for deputy leader of the SNP, pledging to keep Europe at the forefront of his pitch for the position.

The event this morning at Summerhall in Edinburgh, was introduced by Richard Demarco, the renowned Scots-Italian artist and visual arts commentator.

Smith emphasised the European vision at the centre of his bid with a focus on internationalism, and offered a renewed message for independence and a push for greater equality.

Smith said: "My pitch is a simple one. Now's the time. We must embrace Europe and put the European question at the heart of how we do business as a party at home, as well as in the wider world."

"We need to make clear, to ourselves as a party to Scotland and to the wider world, that we choose Europe as our future, Westminster is our past." Alyn Smith

Smith stated he had the attributes for a new, "more intense" strategy to work with Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, and to achieve independence and a place in EU.

"We need to engage not just through London but directly with Europe," Smith told CommonSpace after the launch. "There's interest but we need a sustained intensive communication of what's going on here. I'm uniquely qualified for this role."

Three other three participants in the running for the SNP deputy leader role: MPs Angus Robertson and Tommy Sheppard and councillor Chris McEleny. 

Given the current political climate being set by the UK's vote to leave the EU, Smith had stated in a piece in The National that for him independence goes hand in hand with Scotland’s place in Europe.

At the launch, he said: "We need to make clear, to ourselves as a party to Scotland and to the wider world, that we choose Europe as our future, Westminster is our past."

"We need to engage not just through London but directly with Europe."  Alyn Smith

Smith added that being neither from Holyrood or Westminster meant he could bring a fresh perspective to the role of deputy, something of particular relevance in the post-Brexit climate.

The Glasgow born MEP, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, also commented on the future of the independence referendum, striking a conciliatory tone. He said: "There's the role of the party itself in driving Scotland forward. 

"The future is unwritten, but where the independence movement is far bigger than the SNP, it does look to us for inspiration, organisation and, yes, leadership. We need to support and nurture the wider movement more than we are now."

On the case for Scotland to remain in the European Union (EU), Smith told CommonSpace: "We didn't bring this outcome about but our response to it is clear. Our starting point is that Scotland voted to remain. We chose something else and as a result, we expect something else."

"We must embrace Europe and put the European question at the heart of how we do business as a party at home, as well as in the wider world." Alyn Smith

The MEP additionally spoke about the options open to Scotland inside or outside the UK with regards to the EU and accession.

He said: "The EU, Europe can be very flexible, just look at for example German reunification and the Greenland situation. These are all things we are looking at."

Candidates need 100 members from at least 20 different branches by 5 August in order to fully endorse their candidacy, which Alyn Smith has achieved.

The result, which will be decided in a ballot of the SNP’s 116,000 members, will be announced at the party conference in October.

Picture courtesy of Nathanael Williams

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