Scottish council leaders give backing to Brexit People’s Vote

Cosla president Councillor Alison Evison
Cosla president Councillor Alison Evison
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Scotland’s council leaders have backed the call for a People’s Vote on Brexit, warning a “no-deal” scenario could prove damaging to local services and cause an increase in poverty.

Ms Evison said Cosla campaigned for Remain during the EU referendum and was “deeply worried” about the current situation, after a meeting of councils leaders in Edinburgh yesterday.

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“A big hit on our economy will mean an increase in local poverty, fewer resources locally to plan and deliver our services, no structured programme to support our local economies and real threats to all aspects of our import and export trade,” she said.

“The bottom line is that we must not end up with a no-deal by default.

“A no-deal would cause real pain in communities right across Scotland, so all politicians have to come forward and do the right thing – and that includes the UK Parliament on 11 December.

“A People’s Vote is a practical way to get out of the constitutional crisis we are in.”

The second referendum has the support of the Scottish Government, with Nicola Sturgeon calling on Labour to get behind the campaign. But it has been ruled out by the UK Government, which says such a move would undermine the democratic decision taken by voters in 2016.

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Scotland for a People’s Vote campaign leader John Edward also welcomed the announcement.

“The momentum for a People’s Vote is building and the support of council leaders the length and breadth of Scotland is welcome and extremely encouraging,” he said.

“Over the coming days, all MPs must ask themselves: Is the Withdrawal Agreement better than the deal we’ve already got inside the EU?

“If they cannot look their constituents in the eye and say it is, they must vote this deal down and then hand the decision back to the people.”

Nearly 70 per cent of Scots would vote to remain in the EU if a People’s vote was held – a significant rise in support since the 2016 referendum, polling this week showed. And across Great Britain as a whole, a clear majority (56 per cent) would now vote to remain, an increase from 49 per cent last time, according to research for Best for Britain and HOPE not hate.

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the decision “sends a very powerful message from Scotland’s local authorities”.

She said: “Councils across Scotland are facing huge cuts and the last thing we need is Brexit harming our economy and leading to further austerity, putting more valued services at risk. There is an alternative to Theresa May’s bad deal and no deal”