EU exit campaign to use SNP case for independence

Davidson: considering leading role. Picture: Greg Macvean
Davidson: considering leading role. Picture: Greg Macvean
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SCOTLAND will have a separate European Union “exit” campaign from the rest of the UK which will use the SNP’s arguments for independence to try to persuade voters north of the Border to back breaking away from Brussels, Scotland on Sunday has learned.

Leading figures in Vote Leave and Business for Britain have decided that winning a majority in Scotland is “essential” for securing a UK majority to leave the EU but believe this can only be achieved with a campaign that is separate from the main UK one run from London.

They also believe that the different political climate in Scotland means it needs a campaign tailored for its electorate and are seeking a senior Scottish Labour figure to lead it.

Former Glasgow South West MP Ian Davidson, who lost his seat in May, has confirmed to Scotland on Sunday that he is “considering” an approach to play a leading role in the exit campaign not just in Scotland but across the UK.

Davidson was a well-known Eurosceptic on the left of the party, and the anti-EU group believes it can get about 20 per cent of Labour’s current MPs on board.

“I have had a telephone call about it,” he said. “I am currently thinking it over and haven’t made up my mind yet.”

It is understood that the thinking behind a separate Scottish campaign may be based on a paper put together by the group drawn up by public affairs specialist David Roach, who stood as a Tory candidate in East Lothian in May. The ideas include using the SNP’s arguments for independence from the UK and could focus on the possibility of repatriating powers from Brussels directly to Holyrood.

A source said: “The obvious example is fishing. If we leave the EU, this is something that will come to Scotland directly.”

Tory MP Bernard Jenkin told Scotland on Sunday that he believes that an exit vote in Scotland is possible because of the success of the SNP.

He said: “There is no logic to the SNP position of wanting to leave the UK but then tie themselves to Brussels. I think over time people in Scotland will be able to see that.”

A recent Survation poll showed that 51 per cent of voters in the UK want to leave the EU, while the small Scottish sample had 51 per cent wanting to stay.