Remain & Leave Rallies To Be Held With Week To Go

16 June 2016, 10:15 | Updated: 16 June 2016, 10:16

EU and GB flag

Scotland has the opportunity to lead the European Union referendum debate over the final week of campaigning, according to former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

The Liberal Democrat MP will appear alongside Scottish party leader Willie Rennie and Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale at a pro-EU rally in Edinburgh today.

Mr Clegg said Scottish votes could make "a crucial difference'' to the outcome of the June 23 referendum as he urged Remain voters to make their voices heard.

His intervention comes as a new poll showed that while Remain is still ahead in Scotland, support for staying in the EU appears to have dipped north of the border as the ballot draws nearer.

Scottish Vote Leave campaigners will be holding their own rally in Glasgow on Thursday in an effort to bolster support.

Labour MP and campaign chair of Vote Leave Gisela Stuart is due to speak at the event.

Commenting ahead of the Edinburgh event hosted by the European Movement in Scotland, Mr Clegg said: "This referendum is too important to be reduced to a squabble between a handful of Conservatives who went to school together.

"The outcome will make a huge difference to the lives of millions of people across Scotland and the United Kingdom, and especially to young people who will have to live with the consequences for decades to come.''

He added: "Scotland has a proud internationalist tradition. Just as I believe that the UK should be a leader in the EU, I think Scotland has an opportunity to lead the referendum debate within the UK over the final week of the campaign.

"This is a UK-wide referendum and a Remain vote in Edinburgh or Glasgow is worth every bit as much as vote in Hampshire or in my constituency in Sheffield.

"This is shaping up to be a knife-edge result and Scotland can make the difference.

"I urge every Scot who wants us to lead in the EU to make the case for Europe over the next seven days and get out and vote next week.''

In her address to the rally, Ms Dugdale is expected to say: "You don't have to love the EU.

"You don't have to be happy about everything about Europe. But you do have to know that this is on a knife-edge.

"Your vote, your individual vote, can make the difference between remaining part of a union that is essential for jobs, economic growth and the funding of public services, or your vote could be the one that sees us cast off alone in the world.

"You have a vote. But it cannot be a protest vote. It is too close, and too important, for that now.

"This is real and leaving the EU, with all its economic consequences, could be the reality you wake up to in a few days' time.''

She will also appeal to older voters not to "limit the future of the next generation''.

Meanwhile, Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney said promises of more devolution to the Scottish Parliament in return for a leave vote was a "Tory con-trick''.

He said: "Leaving the EU does not mean extra powers would be transferred to the Scottish Parliament - the powers would go straight back from Brussels to Westminster, who would have absolutely no obligation to devolve anything.

"The only people who would be empowered by a Leave vote would be the extreme wing of the Tory party - people who most certainly do not have Scotland's best interests at heart and people who are determined to rip up the various workers' rights and employment protections guaranteed by the EU.

"Indeed, the Leave campaign is led by the very same people who have, at every opportunity, resisted the transfer of powers to Scotland - so their hollow offers of more powers are nothing more than a Tory con-trick.''

He called on Scots to vote remain to reject what he described as a "right-wing Tory takeover''.

Responding to Mr Swinney, Tom Harris, director of Scottish Vote Leave, said: "Constitutional experts have agreed if we leave the EU the Scottish Parliament would gain vast new powers.

"I understand why the SNP are saying this, they have nothing to say on the topic of more powers.

"If we leave the EU our elected politicians in Scotland would have more control, our Parliament would be more powerful and we would stop being run by an unelected elite in Brussels.

"Perhaps the SNP should reflect on why they are asking voters to continue being governed by an unelected elite in Brussels, rather than their own Scottish Government.

"The SNP should spend less time teaming up with David Cameron to scare Scottish voters, and more time working out what they plan to do with the new powers they will receive when we Leave the European Union.''