Eurosceptic MSPs make their calls for an Out vote from left and right
MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament have overwhelmingly endorsed an In vote in the forthcoming EU referendum in less than a month’s time.
The motion to favour an In vote was moved by Fiona Hyslop, the SNP’s cabinet secretary for culture, Europe and external affairs, and represents the opening salvo in the Scottish Government’s post-Scottish election campaign to help secure a majority to remain within the 28 member block of countries.
Opening the debate on the EU referendum Hyslop focused on what she claimed were the benefits of EU membership for Scotland’s workers.
She said: “The position of the Scottish Government is clear we are far better off In than Out.”
“The EU has been a social good supporting worker’s rights including a 48 working week and 20 days of holiday as a minimum.”
Hyslop also stressed the importance of EU migration to “fill the skills gap” in the Scottish economy, and the value of collective EU investment into renewable energies technology.
The debate follows First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s (25 May) opening speech to the Scottish Parliament
Supporting the motion for an In vote, Ross Greer MSP for the Scottish Greens said that the EU referendum in England had been dominated by “two failed wings of the Conservative party”, such that he could “understand” why some on the left were tempted to support an Out vote, but that he disagreed with them.
“Whilst it is deeply flawed it is our European Union,” he said
“Progress is possible, the EU parliament is more powerful than before,” he added.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “Labour is Scotland’s internationalist party.”
She warned against complacency in the face of repeated polls which have shown Scotland had a majority in favour of remaining within the EU and said MSPs must reckon with the “power of populism” to sway the vote.
However, the debate also heard from several MSPs supporting an Out vote in the referendum.
Scottish Conservative Margaret Mitchell said that the “key argument” for voting leave was the problems created by the free movement of people under the terms of the Schengen Agreement.
She said: “With an ageing population we will need more immigration, but free movement means we cannot choose those with the skills we need to enter the UK
“Immigration will put strain on our schools, hospitals…pensions and benefits system”.
Saying she wanted to articulate a leftwing case for an Out vote, Labour MSP Elaine Smith said the Eu had “intensified austerity and reactionary politics” in an “undemocratic super state with growing unemployment”.
She added: “With an unelected parliament and largely decorative parliament, it is a project weeded to capitalism.
“Both CETA and TTIP are being negotiated secretly and will be a serious threat to our public services here in Scotland.
“The EU is not Europe. It is a political superstructure imposed on the people of Europe.”
Scotland has the most pro-In political representatives in the UK, with its political scene increasingly dominated by the SNP which has a long term commitment to the EU.
In March the Scottish Government’s then minister for Europe Humza Yousaf told CommonSpace that the SNP would “dominate” the referendum campaign in Scotland.
Picture courtesy of Scottish Government