RUTH Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, has welcomed the prospect of a UK-wide referendum on EU membership, insisting the country should have “no fear” of deciding on its relationship with Europe.
She was speaking after First Minister Alex Salmond warned last week that David Cameron’s expected promise of a referendum on the European Union was the key threat to Europe, not Scottish independence.
However, Davidson said Salmond should back proposals to allow people to be “consulted” on Europe.
Her comments came with Cameron still to deliver a keynote speech on Britain’s relationship with the EU, delayed last week due to the Algerian hostage crisis.
He is expected to argue that Britain’s relationship with Europe requires fresh “consent”, saying that without it, the country could “drift” out of the EU.
Davidson said yesterday there was the same merit in holding a referendum on EU membership as there was on Scottish independence.
She said: “We have no fear of putting it to the people of Scotland to choose their preferred relationship within the EU, just as we are happy they will get their say on whether Scotland is to separate from the rest of the UK.”
She went on: “We recognise that people have concerns about the current arrangement between the UK and our European partners and it’s only right they get to cast their vote on what that future relationship should be.”
Turning to the SNP’s stance, she said: “Alex Salmond acts as if he is accountable to no-one but himself and refuses to entertain any suggestion the people of Scotland should be consulted on major issues.”