Ruth Davidson Makes Positive Case For EU

22 September 2015, 06:00

The campaign for the UK to remain in the European Union must make a positive case for continued membership, according to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

Ms Davidson wants the UK to stay in Europe but she supports David Cameron's decision to negotiate reforms and hold a referendum on membership before the end of 2017.

The Tory leader will set out her position on the vote in a speech in Brussels.

She will use the address at the New Direction think-tank to state her priority is Scottish jobs, arguing the advantages of EU membership clearly outweigh any disadvantages in helping employers to expand.

Ms Davidson is expected to say: "The European Union has faced and is facing some of its most difficult times as we speak.

"The financial crisis exposed the fault lines with the euro. The current migration crisis has exposed the fault lines with the Schengen agreement.

"It is hard to contest the point made by some that the EU is a fair-weather union - one which works fine when times are good, but which has no durability when the going gets tough.

"But I find myself falling on the side of those who believe the union can - indeed must - find a way to work.''

She will add: "I want to make it easier for Britain's makers and sellers and do-ers to get their product to market.

"So, what I want is a better European Union which puts trade and the single market top of its agenda, with a stronger United Kingdom at its heart, showing it is open for business and open to the world.

"To me, the cost benefit analysis is clear. The advantages we gain from EU membership clearly and categorically outweigh any disadvantages that come with it.

"So, for my part, I will be backing our national interest and urging Britain to stay within that reformed EU.

"We shouldn't simply treat the EU as a dead weight, with the process of reform only being to lessen the negative impact it has upon on us.

"We should also be outlining the prize that awaits us if we get EU reform right.

"So, it's my view that, as we approach the referendum, we must not lose sight of the economic benefits we get from being part of the EU.''

The Scottish Tory leader's speech comes as Mr Cameron is to make a new diplomatic push to win support for his renegotiation of the UK's EU membership.

The Prime Minister will host French President Francois Hollande at a working dinner at Chequers on Tuesday while Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond will this week travel to Brussels and Paris to press the case for reform.

A spokesman for Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: "The only reason Scotland's EU membership is under threat in the first place is because the Tories have failed to make the positive case for Europe for so long, and have instead allowed themselves to be dragged along by Ukip-driven agenda at Westminster.

"By contrast, the SNP has been unequivocal that being part of the EU - and its single market of over half a billion people - is good for business and supports jobs in Scotland and across the UK.

"Ms Davidson's pledge to make a positive case is welcome, but if she was really serious about protecting Scotland's place in the EU she would back our proposal that the UK could only leave the EU if all four nations of the UK agreed to it.''