Scotland’s place in Europe only safe with independence says McLeod

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SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Dr Aileen McLeod has said that Scotland’s role as a member of the European Union can only be protected with a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum, following yesterday’s ministerial statement by the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on the launch of the Scottish Government’s prospectus “Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to An Independent Scotland
 
The 670-page document – the most comprehensive blueprint for independence ever produced by any country ahead of an independence vote – was launched to an audience of hundreds of journalists from across the globe.
 
The guide shows how Scotland will move from a Yes vote on September 18th next year, toward its independence on March 24th 2016 – ahead of the first elections in an independent Scotland. It also describes the huge financial savings that can be made – including half a billion pounds on defence spending, and savings from no longer contributing to the funding of the Westminster Parliament.
 
Today the Scottish Government has also published a paper on Scotland’s future role in the European Union.
 
Commenting, Dr McLeod, whose Parliamentary Question followed the Ministerial Statement on the White Paper yesterday afternoon, said:
 
“The White Paper makes clear that an independent Scotland would be a member of the European Union, with all of the benefits that being a member state has to offer. My question to the Deputy First Minister yesterday sought to highlight the real risks to Scotland if we continue to allow Westminster to negotiate with Europe on our behalf.
 
“In Dumfries & Galloway this would be considerable since we have such a large farming sector, which is being shamefully let down by a Westminster government, that has failed to negotiate a good settlement for Scotland’s farmers and, worse still is now withholding £223 million which they only received because of Scotland’s circumstances, and which should be resourcing Scottish agriculture and rural development.
 
“Nicola Sturgeon’s answer confirmed what many people already suspect – that Scotland’s future as a member of the European Union, able to maximize the benefits that membership can bring, is only safe with independence. The real threat to Scotland’s membership of the EU is the Tory fixation with an in-out referendum.”
 
On the White Paper itself, Dr McLeod added:
 
“This landmark document takes the referendum debate into a new phase. No country in history is as well-equipped as Scotland is to move toward independence, and even the staunchest opponents of Yes now accept that Scotland has got what it takes to be an independent country.
 
“The guide and the answers it provides will show clearly and simply the difference that we can make in Scotland if decisions on Scotland’s future are taken by those who care most about Scotland; the people who live and work here.
 
“The referendum on 18th September next year is a vote unlike any other – it is the biggest opportunity we have had as a country in 300 years. That’s why I’m calling on everyone in Dumfries & Galloway – regardless of what their current views are on independence – to read this guide, compare it with any alternative future for Scotland and make up their own minds.”
 
Notes to editors:
 
Dr McLeod’s question and the Deputy First Minister’s answer can be found below:
 
Aileen McLeod (South Scotland) (SNP): Does the Deputy First Minister agree that at a time when the UK Government is seriously contemplating withdrawal from the EU, Scotland’s future in the EU can be guaranteed only by independence and that under any scenario, an independent Scottish Government taking its place at the EU top table is the only way to ensure that Scotland’s best interests are represented in EU legislative and policy decisions?

Nicola Sturgeon: I make two points in response to Aileen McLeod’s vital question about Scotland’s representation in the European Union. First, our interests would be much better served by independent membership of the European Union. Anybody who doubts that need only speak to Richard Lochhead, who I am not sure is in the chamber, about the disgraceful situation around agriculture payments over the past few weeks, when Scotland’s interests were not served by the UK Government.

The second point is absolutely the correct one. The risk to Scotland’s membership of the European Union is not independence; the risk is the in/out referendum that is being proposed by David Cameron, the Conservatives and the UK Government. If Scotland does not become independent, there is a very real risk that, in that referendum, the UK as a whole will vote to come out, Scotland will vote to stay in and we will be taken out of the European Union against our will, with all the serious implications that that will have for our economy. That is the risk to Scotland, and that is one of the many reasons why we should vote yes in next year’s referendum.

 
Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an independent Scotland can be accessed at www.scotreferendum.com
 
The paper “Scotland in the European Union” can be found here:

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