The people of Scotland must be given the right to effectively veto the UK’s withdrawal from the EU to prevent the country being dragged out of Europe against its will, the SNP’s most senior representative at Westminster has said.
Angus Robertson said David Cameron’s promise to give Scots an “equal voice” in the wake of last year’s independence referendum would lie “in tatters” if the Prime Minister did not allow each part of the UK its own say in the forthcoming in/out vote.
Addressing fears that a constitutional crisis would ensue if the UK was taken out of the EU on the basis of English votes, the SNP’s leader at Westminster said his party would seek to introduce a rule ahead of the forthcoming referendum making it impossible for the UK to leave unless all four parts of the Union voted in favour.
“We will seek to amend the legislation to ensure that no constituent part of the UK can be taken out of the EU against its will,” Mr Robertson wrote in the Guardian. “We will propose a ‘double majority’ rule, meaning that unless England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each vote to leave the EU, as well as the UK as a whole, Britain would remain a member state.
“If Cameron continues to refuse to accept this democratic protection, then his independence referendum vow that Scotland is to have an equal voice will be in tatters.”
Both the Conservative Government and Labour are opposed to the idea of such an amendment, believing that the EU vote is a decision for the UK as a whole. But the SNP will seek to build an alliance with other opposition parties in an attempt to change the legislation. – and if their amendment falls, the party’s 56 MPs could vote against the bill.
Mr Robertson also called for 16- and 17-year-olds to be allowed to vote on Britain’s future in the EU, as was the case in last year’s independence referendum. Describing this as “best practice”, he added: “Scotland’s 56 SNP MPs will certainly seek to amend the legislation to ensure that young people are able to take part in the vote.”
According to a YouGov poll, a clear majority of Scots want to remain in the EU. Of those expressing a preference on the vote, 68 per cent said they would like the UK to stay, with only 32 per cent believing that Britain should leave.
Stephen Gethins MP, the SNP’s shadow Minister for Europe, said the poll “underline[d] the importance” of the double majority rule his party was proposing. “Otherwise, Scotland could be dragged out against our will,” he added.Reuse content