Scots election weariness may affect EU referendum, peer warns

Scotland Stronger In Europe campaigner Charity Pierce hands out pro-EU leaflets. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor/TSPL
Scotland Stronger In Europe campaigner Charity Pierce hands out pro-EU leaflets. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor/TSPL
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Election weariness could play a part in determining the result of the European Union referendum as the ballot is taking place only weeks after the Holyrood poll, a veteran Liberal Democrat has warned.

Lord Wallace, a former Scottish deputy first minister and the latest member of the campaign group Britain Stronger In Europe, said the Scottish elections on May 5 would be the “prime focus” of his party’s activities.

But with the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU taking place on June 23, he said Lib Dems would have a particular role to play, ensuring that supporters of the campaign to remain take part and vote.

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The party has a “very positive message to put forward” on Europe, he said.

Lord Wallace, who was speaking at the Scottish Liberal Democrat spring conference in Edinburgh, added: “We believe together with our European partners we’re more likely to have a stronger and more prosperous nation.”

He told activists: “It’s important in all parts of the country we get out there and do what we can to identify the ‘In’ vote and to make sure on the day it turns out.”

The referendum will centre on a “fundamental question about whether Britain and Scotland should remain in the European Union or leave the European Union”, the Liberal Democrat peer said.

“Our particular pitch will be to people who are already quite committed or very committed, to make sure that on the day they turn out. Because there would be nothing worse than people like that who don’t quite get round to it.

“That may particularly be the case in Scotland, where we will be going to the polls just several weeks after the Scottish elections and there might be an element of weariness.

“We’ve got a particular job to do in identifying people who are very committed and making sure that they turn out.”

Lord Wallace addressed the conference the day after he was confirmed as the latest member of the board of the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign.

Campaign chairman Lord Rose said: “Jim is a fantastic addition to our board and I look forward to working with him to win this referendum. His experience, knowledge and passion that Britain is stronger, safer and better off in Europe will be an asset to the campaign.”