EU referendum: Scots urged to lead way to '˜remain' vote

SCOTLAND should take the lead in the last week of the 'knife-edge' EU referendum debate, former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg will tell an Edinburgh audience today.

Thursday, 16th June 2016, 5:17 am
Updated Thursday, 16th June 2016, 6:33 am
Chancellor George Osborne and predecessor Alistair Darling visit the Hitachi Rail Europe plant after attending a pro-Remain event. Picture: Getty

With polls pointing to a possible Leave victory, the ex-Lib Dem leader will urge Remain voters to make their voices heard in the final days before next Thursday’s vote.

Mr Clegg said: “This referendum is too important to be reduced to a squabble between a handful of Conservatives who went to school together.

“The outcome will make a huge difference to the lives of millions of people across Scotland and the United Kingdom, and especially to young people who will have to live with the consequences for decades to come.

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“I care what the referendum means for the workers in industries like Scotch whisky which export to the EU and support tens of thousands of jobs across the country. I care what it means for our place in the world and our relationships with our friends and neighbours. I care what it means for our work to tackle climate change. On each of these counts a Leave vote will diminish us as a country.”

He said Scotland had a proud international tradition. “Just as I believe that the UK should be a leader in the EU, I think Scotland has an opportunity to lead the referendum debate within the UK over the final week of the campaign.

“This is a UK-wide referendum and a Remain vote in Edinburgh or Glasgow is worth every bit as much as vote in Hampshire or in my constituency in Sheffield. This is shaping up to be a knife-edge result and Scotland can make the difference.

“I urge every Scot who wants us to lead in the EU to make the case for Europe over the next seven days and get out and vote next week.”

At the same rally, organised by the European Movement at St Columba’s by the Castle Episcopal Church, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is expected to warn the referendum is too important for a protest vote.

She will say: “You don’t have to love the EU. You don’t have to be happy about everything about Europe. But you do have to know that this is on a knife-edge.

“Your vote, your individual vote, can make the difference between remaining part of a union that is essential for jobs, economic growth and the 
funding of public services, or your vote could be the one that sees us cast off alone in the world. You have a vote, but it cannot be a protest vote. It is too close, and too important, for that now. This is real and leaving the EU, with all its economic consequences, could be the reality you wake up to in a few days’ time.”

And appealing to older voters, she will urge them to vote Remain for the sake of the next generation.

She will say: “We know not to obsess over polls but they seem to tell us a story. Younger voters, who have lived their whole lives in a borderless world, see no sense in erecting one between ourselves and Europe. My generation recognises that Europe means opportunity: the chance to work, to prosper, to step out into the world with confidence.

“On behalf of my generation I appeal to older voters, please do not limit the future of the next generation.

“And to my generation I say this: talk to your parents and grandparents. Tell them what this means to you. Ask them to vote for your future.”