Political leaders in favour of Remain

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The cash in our pockets and the economy versus the dilution of our culture and democracy are the lynchpins of the E U debate, which has so energised the Westminster politicians over the past month or so.

Voters will make their decision at the ballot box on June 23rd, but with the Scottish political community at Holyrood in favour of a ‘Remain’ vote, the whole debate has been low-key across the country and the public appetite for the subject almost non-existent.

The Scottish Parliament formally backed the case for the UK remaining in the European Union last Thursday with a debate in the Holyrood chamber seeing the leaders from all five parties speak in favour of Remain.

Ministers said they wanted to send a “clear, unequivocal” message of the parliament’s support for EU membership ahead of the referendum vote.

Although there were a small number of dissenting voices from the Conservative and Labour ranks members voted overwhelmingly to support a motion backing a Remain vote, by 106 votes in favour to eight against, three MSPs abstained.

During the debate Labour leader Kezia Dugdale made a passionate argument in favour of a Remain vote, saying there is “something beautiful about being part of this European family”.

She also warned against the danger of “populist” arguments, and argued that the country would be more secure in bigger alliances than standing alone.

Western Isles representative Alasdair Allan MSP this week set out his view on the benefits of E.U. membership for rural Scotland.

He said: “With less than a month until the polls open for the EU referendum, I believe it is important to be clear about the many ways in which the EU benefits Scotland’s island communities.

“Island crofters and farmers receive millions of pounds of funding from Europe, with access to a single market of 500 million people creating huge trading opportunities for island food and drink producers. It is far from clear how this would be replicated if we were not in the EU.

“Tourism plays a vital role in the islands’ economy. Free movement makes it easier for tourists from the rest of the EU to visit Scotland with around 17,000 a year choosing to visit the Isles, spending millions of pounds while here.

“It also provides the opportunity for people with much needed skills to come and contribute to our communities and economy.

“There are many things that are wrong with the EU – such as the way that the Common Fisheries Policy has been implemented – and I won’t for a moment pretend the EU is a perfect institution. “But I take the view that the only way to change Europe is to take an active and positive role in Europe.

“That is why I will be voting on 23 June to ensure that Scotland and the UK remain part of the European Union.”

Mr Allan argues that E.U. membership brings benefits such as:

Over 300,000 Scottish jobs were estimated to be directly and indirectly associated with exports to the EU in 2011.

· The EU received 42% of Scotland’s International exports in 2014, worth more than £11 billion.

· Tourists from other EU countries spent around £800 million in Scotland or about 40 per cent of total international visitor spend.

· Scotland will receive £3.5 billion to implement the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in Scotland until 2020 – with £2.8 billion going direct to crofters and farmers.

· Scottish Seafood and Marine sectors will receive £81 million in direct assistance through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund between 2014 and 2020.

What is your view of the debate, do you agree with the representatives at Holyrood?

Do you feel the points being made about the benefits received from the E.U represent the public’s concerns?

What do you feel are the downsides to being part of the E.U?

Let us know your opinions by emailing your views to: news@stornowaygazette.co.uk