Gordon Brown targets overwhelming support for EU in Scotland

Former PM believes as many as 70 per cent of Scots could vote to stay in the EU.


Amid the Labour Party’s internal navel gazing over the past few days, former prime minister Gordon Brown will seek to refocus attention on issues of substance as he intervenes in the debate over the UK’s place in the European Union.

In what is expected to be a powerful speech later today at the launch of the new Scottish Labour Movement for Europe, Brown will argue that Scotland could vote by an overwhelming 70-30 majority in favour of remaining in the EU if the case to stay is based around the “needs and aspirations” of ordinary families.

On the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, addressing suggestions that leaving the EU would somehow make the UK less likely to suffer terrorist attacks, he will argue that this would amount only to a “betrayal of our history” by abandoning fellow member states facing the same threats.

According to polling published last month by Survation, across Scotland, 58 per cent of voters currently intend to vote to remain in the EU, a similar figure to the results north of the border at the time of the 1975 referendum on membership of the European Community.

Brown however will argue that with the right campaign support could be much higher than this. He will use his speech to argue:

“I believe we can do much better in 2016, and if we put forward a positive, principled and progressive case, we can win 70 per cent for versus 30 against.

We must start this debate from the needs and aspirations of Britain’s working families – not institutions and constitutions – and make the case for exactly what kind of country we want to be.

This referendum should be about jobs, security and the future prospects of our young.

We must be positive by showing, as the research from the Centre for Economics and Business states, that up to 300,000 Scottish jobs are linked to membership of the European Union and 20,000 Scottish businesses trade with mainland Europe.

What’s more is that 1,000 Europe-owned businesses are Scots employers, and 46 per cent of Scots international exports go to Europe.

We must be principled showing we do best not just as members of Europe but as leaders of Europe.”

He will continue:

“There is a stronger, patriotic view of Britain’s best future that is different from those who glory in us standing apart and want us to be wholly separate, defiantly independent of others.

It is the patriotic vision that affirms that Britain is not the Britain we know unless we are outward-looking, unless we are engaged with the continent and unless British values – tolerance, liberty, fairness and social responsibility – play a leading role in shaping Europe and helping Europe to lead in the world.

Our destiny can never be some kind of bit-part player semi-detached on someone else’s stage or a bystander hectoring from the wings.

We must at all times be setting the agenda in Europe, bringing people together in Europe and championing change in Europe.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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