Gordon Brown to launch Labour campaign to keep UK in EU

Former prime minister Gordon Brown wants Britain to remain in the EU. Picture: Scott Louden

Former prime minister Gordon Brown wants Britain to remain in the EU. Picture: Scott Louden

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GORDON Brown will today launch Labour’s Scottish campaign to keep the UK in Europe, claiming that Scots could vote by as much as 70:30 against exit.

In a speech in Edinburgh, the former prime minister is expected to call for a “positive and patriotic” campaign.

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

Gordon Brown

It comes as the debate over EU membership hots up, amid speculation the referendum could be held as early as June and with David Cameron announcing ministers will be allowed to argue on different sides and still keep their jobs.

Meanwhile a new opinion poll found over-50s in Scotland were more pro-Europe than people of the same age elsewhere in the UK.

The survey commissioned by Saga found 58 per cent of older Scots saying the would vote to stay in, compared with 43 per cent in the UK as a whole.

Mr Brown will say: “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.”

He will argue 300,000 Scottish jobs are linked to EU membership and 20,000 Scottish businesses trade with mainland Europe. “Europe is a far bigger part of our lives than we recognise.”

Mr Brown will point out that at 1975 referendum, the UK vote in favour of Europe was 68 per cent with 32 per cent against, but in Scotland it was only 58 per cent for and 42 per cent against.

“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.”

He will brand the argument that leaving the EU would make Britain safer from terrorist attack as “misguided.”

“We can only be sure that there is no safe haven and no hiding place for terrorists anywhere by maximising co-operation with every country opposed to terrorism.”

As Mr Brown gets the staying-in campaign under way, Labour’s “leave” activists –led by erstwhile Brown ally and former Edinburgh South MP Nigel Griffiths – are set to launch a poster campaign warning of the “unacceptable cost” of EU membership.

Mr Griffiths said: “The key message is the UK gives Brussels £50m every day, £350m every week and £19bn a year. We get back less than half that sum, but Brussels stops us spending it on our priorities on jobs in manufacturing, energy, regeneration, agriculture and fisheries.

“We need to be free to spend the £19bn on our priorities. Our future prosperity depends on the freedom to invest and trade as we think fit – and not with Brussels dictating what we can and cannot do.”

The UK government has pledged to hold the referendum by the end of next year.

SEE ALSO: Labour rivals Lord Foulkes and Nigel Griffiths have their say on Britain’s future in the EU

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com

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