EU Referendum: Brexit would ‘revive’ independence debate

Michael Gove and Boris Johnson on the campaign trail. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Michael Gove and Boris Johnson on the campaign trail. Picture: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
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THE issue of Scottish independence within the EU has “not gone away”, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson, has said.

Mr Robertson made clear that the independence debate will be revived if Scotland is taken out of the EU against its will in the June 23 referendum, though he insisted he did not want the nation to take this path to sovereignty.

Speaking in London, Mr Robertson called for a “positive” campaign for Britain to remain in the EU, rather than an approach which would see the UK stay on as a “surly lodger”.

Warning that the campaign was “at a turning point” with polls suggesting the growing likelihood of a Leave vote, Mr Robertson said: “Now more than ever, we need to hear the positive case to remain in the European Union, because it is not good enough to squeak a victory and stay in the EU and remain a surly lodger. The issue will not go away.

“As a supporter of Scottish independence within the EU, I can assure you that this issue has not gone away, especially with the potential outcome of Scotland being taken out of the EU against the wishes of 
Scottish voters.

“I do not wish for this route to Scottish sovereignty, as I would prefer to remain within the EU together with our friends, neighbours and key trading partners in England, Wales and Ireland north and south. Scotland can and will make constitutional progress regardless of the EU referendum.

“What I do wish for in three weeks of positive campaigning are the strong messages around jobs, prosperity and security that matter to us individually, as families, as communities as countries.”

Mr Robertson said support for the EU among Scottish businesses was “overwhelming”, with 68 per cent saying they back Remain, according to a Scottish Chamber of Commerce survey. Scottish businesses “know the benefit of accessing a single market made up of over half a billion people and offering tariff-free trade”, said Mr Robertson.

He added: “But Scotland is not just an exporting nation. In four out of the last five years, Scotland has been the most successful of all the nations and regions of the UK outside of London in attracting foreign direct investment, according to Ernst and Young’s attractiveness survey 2015. “Europe is not perfect, but it was never meant to be. One of its founding fathers, Robert Schuman, proclaimed in that famous 1950 address: ‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according to one single plan, rather it will be formed by taking concrete measures which bring about real solidarity’.”

Meanwhile, sacrificing sovereignty in the hope of economic gain is “morally and practically and completely wrong”, Boris Johnson said. The ex-Mayor of London was visiting a beauty product distribution centre alongside Michael Gove.