PRO-EUROPE campaigners must not allow Ukip to present themselves as “the true defenders of Britain” in the way that the SNP did with Scotland in the independence referendum, Gordon Brown has said.
The former prime minister said those who want the UK to remain in the European Union should put forward their own “positive and patriotic” case, learning lessons from the 2014 independence ballot.
Mr Brown was speaking at the launch of the Scottish Labour Movement for Europe in Edinburgh.
The campaign group aims to be a “distinctly Labour, distinctly Scottish” voice in the in/out referendum on the UK’s EU membership.
He said: “I think there is one lesson we have got to learn from the Scottish referendum, because what the SNP tried to do all the time is present themselves as the only people who were standing up for Scotland, and they tried to present those people who were patriotic Scots who wanted to stay part of the United Kingdom as standing up for Britain.
“They tried to pose the argument that they were for Scotland and others were for Britain, and of course that was wrong.”
He added: “The same thing is going to happen in the European referendum if Ukip have their way.
“They are going to present themselves as the true defenders of Britain, and they are going to say that Catherine (Stihler, Labour MEP for Scotland), and other MEPs, all they do is stand up for Europe.
“We have got to put the patriotic case for Britain, because there are two views of what it is to be British.
“There is the Ukip view that Britain always stands alone, apart, a race apart and to some extent identity is based on your ethnicity, and then there is the view that I hold, that being British is being engaged in the world, is being outward-looking, is leading in the world as we have done historically in the past, and that is a patriotic view of Britain that leads you to both want to be a member of the European Union and a leader of the European Union.
“We must never allow this debate to be one with Britain represented by Ukip and Europe represented by the rest of us.”