Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will warn that there will be a “groundswell of anger” in Scotland and “strong backlash” if the country was inadvertently pulled out of the European Union following the impending referendum.
In fact, she will warn that Scots will “clamour” for an independence referendum again if Britain leaves the EU – dubbed a “Brexit.”
In excerpts of her speech to be delivered later today, Sturgeon will ask Prime Minister David Cameron to agree to a “double majority,” which means that England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales would all have to back a Brexit, for it to go ahead.
“David Cameron is threatening that if he doesn’t get his own way, he may be happy to see the UK leave the EU. That is a world apart from my view,” Sturgeon will also say in her speech.
“In Scotland there are roughly 300,000 jobs dependent on our exports to other European countries, which are made possible because of our membership of the single market.”
Some 55% of Scots voted to not sever the 307-year old union with England in September last year.
Cameron promised to deliver an in/out EU referendum by 2017, with the simple question “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” But he and his closest allies at the top of the Conservative party is hoping to negotiate better terms and conditions for Britain’s membership, rather than exiting the 28-nation bloc.
In January last year, UK Chancellor George Osborne said the Tories were determined to deliver on the promise of a referendum but they would prefer to stay within the EU and negotiate “a better deal.”
“Our determination is clear: to deliver the reform and then let the people decide,” Osborne said in a speech at a Tory party conference on January 14. “It is the status quo which condemns the people of Europe to an ongoing economic crisis and continuing decline. And so there is a simple choice for Europe: reform or decline.”
However, Sturgeon will highlight the issue with pushing for reforms, in her speech later today.
“There’s a danger the UK will focus the debate on the size of the reforms achieved, rather than the bigger picture of the value and importance of the EU,” Sturgeon will say.
“If the UK government wants us to remain in the EU, it should give people something to vote for. If it fails to do that, then even if it wins the vote, it may not resolve the issue.”
Meanwhile, despite Cameron and Osborne’s push to gather reforms for Britain’s EU membership rather than a Brexit, former Cabinet Minister John Redwood warned this week that Tory ministers should be free to campaign for a withdrawal.
“Of course they should be free to campaign as they see fit and they will be free to campaign as they see fit,” said Redwood to Sky news.
“The only issue is whether they are asked to leave their Government positions before they do it or not. This is so fundamental. What is the point of being a Minister if you are charged, for example, with getting immigration down but the European Union won’t let you do it.
“If you are faced with that situation the only honest thing to do is to campaign for a change in the arrangement or to campaign for out.”
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