Sturgeon Seeks 'Overwhelming' EU Victory

29 February 2016, 12:30

Scotland's First Minister has said she is targeting an "overwhelming'' win for the vote to remain in the EU.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she does not want Scotland to become independent as a result of UK withdrawal from the European Union.

The Scottish National Party leader said there was a "real chance'' of a second independence referendum north of the border if Scots were forced out of the EU by English votes.

But she said the interests of a future independent Scotland would be best served by having a neighbour to the south that was a member of the 28-nation bloc.

In a speech in London, the Scottish First Minister said she was targeting an "overwhelming'' vote to remain in the EU in the June 23 referendum.

She called for an "uplifting'' and "positive'' campaign to stay, cautioning that the Remain camp cannot afford to lose support with a message based on fear, as happened in Scotland in 2014.

"I hope that the debate that we engage in over the next few months is a thoroughly positive debate, because one of the undoubted lessons of the Scottish experience is that a miserable, negative, fear-based campaign saw the No campaign in the Scottish referendum lose over the course of the campaign a 20-point lead,'' Ms Sturgeon told a meeting hosted by the Resolution Foundation in Westminster's Smith Square.

"I don't have to point out to anybody here that the In campaign in this referendum doesn't have a 20-point lead to squander.''

Ms Sturgeon said there was "no contradiction'' between believing in independence for Scotland while also supporting membership of the EU.

"If Scotland were to vote in favour of EU membership and the rest of the UK were to vote to leave - if Scotland in other words was to be outvoted - then there is a real chance that that could lead to a second referendum on Scottish independence,'' she said.

But she added: "It's not what I want to happen. Of course, I do want Scotland to be independent, but I don't want Scotland to become independent because the UK chooses to leave the European Union. I want the UK as a whole to stay in the EU because I think that option will be better for the rest of the UK, I think it will be better for the EU and, should Scotland become independent in the future - something I believe will happen - I think it will be better for us too.

"Ireland's stance on the UK referendum is good evidence of this. Why wouldn't we want our closest neighbour also to be a member of the European Union?''

Ms Sturgeon said: "I want the vote on June 23 to result in an overwhelming victory, across all parts of the UK, for remaining in the EU. I will campaign wholeheartedly to achieve that result. And although my main role obviously will be to campaign in Scotland ... many of the points I'll be making are of course also relevant to the debate across the rest of the UK.''

The SNP leader cited the social protections guaranteed by the EU, as well as its economic benefits, as key arguments for remaining in the 28-nation bloc.

The EU was "good for the prosperity and the well-being of individuals, families and communities across our country'', she said.

And she said Scotland had long experience of choosing to pool some of its sovereignty with neighbours for mutual advantage, in a process which she described as "the way of the modern world today''.