Former SNP leader accuses party of deceit over its EU position


Gordon Wilson calls on party to negotiate improved status for Scotland in EU on pain of withdrawing its support for In campaign

FORMER SNP LEADER Gordon Wilson has accused the party of “deceit” over its position on campaigning for an In vote in the EU referendum, and said the party is failing to represent Scotland’s interests.

Wilson said that the party should re-focus on campaigning to improve the position of Scotland within the EU.

“Miniscule regional representation in the EU is not the same as independence in Europe. To say otherwise is a deceit,” Wilson said.

“Unless the SNP introduce a major Scottish element to the debate, they may be surprised at the outcome. Pro-Europe feeling is soft and I have been surprised by the extent of support for Out. There is a limit to the demands the party can make on loyalty from its voters when it departs from its central messages of defending Scotland’s interests.”

Wilson went on to say that the SNP’s campaigning activity was in danger of being insufficiently differentiated from the campaign to keep the UK’s membership of the EU in general.

He said: “Like many other SNP supporters, I am growing increasingly confused regarding the SNP’s message in the EU Referendum. Nowhere is there any attempt to address Scotland’s democratic deficit.”

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In particular, he raised concerns over the SNP’s lack of hostility to the EU’s refusal to recognise Scotland as an individual member of the 28 member state union, with Scotland currently recognised as part of the UK.

He added: “Instead, the SNP is wasting its political capital by appearing more British than the British and more European than the Europeans. What is the SNP’s vision for Scotland in Europe when Europe is intent on vetoing Scottish independent membership?”

Wilson concluded that the SNP should consider abandoning support for the In campaign if its status could not be renegotiated.

He said: “The SNP must assert two constitutional targets. Firstly, to demand assurances from the EU that it will remove its veto on Scottish independence. Secondly, to demand of the EU that the Scottish Government be given the right of attendance and speaking on all matters in the Council of Ministers as of national right.

“If these demands are not met, then the SNP should withdraw its support for Remain. Whether it then pulls out of the campaign, deeming it an irrelevance to Scotland’s needs or switches to Leave, is an issue for decision by the party.”

The intervention comes as a slew of polls puts an Out vote ahead of an In vote just a week ahead of the UK’s referendum on membership of the EU on 23 June.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon joined with other Scottish leaders today [Thursday 16 June] to repeat her support for the EU.

“Today, the Scottish Parliament united to back our place in Europe – and I’m urging people in Scotland to take the opportunity to send a message that we reject the extreme right-wing agenda of the Brexit campaign by uniting to back a Remain vote in big numbers next Thursday,” Sturgeon said.

“The fact is that if we leave Europe, it will be a major victory for right-wing politicians like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, who’re intent on taking over the reins of power in the UK.  And they will take a Brexit vote as a green light to scrap workers’ rights and employment protection, while slashing public spending even further.”

An Ipsos Mori poll (16 June) put Out vote on 53 per cent with ahead of In on 47 per cent.

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