SNP stance on EU seen as ‘anti-English’, says party activist

Alex Salmond (left) has been campaigning for an In vote. Picture: Getty Images
Alex Salmond (left) has been campaigning for an In vote. Picture: Getty Images
Have your say

The SNP’s support for staying in the EU could be seen as “anti-English” and a growing number of Nationalists are backing Brexit, according to party activist and Yes campaigner.

Gary Parker, who has a founded the SNP Go campaign to leave the EU, has voiced concern that party members are backing leader Nicola Sturgeon on “every single matter” and insists the leadership has it wrong on the EU.

The SNP seems incapable of analysing actually what is happening inside the European Union

Jim Sillars

The SNP’s blanket support for the Remain campaign prompted claims that the party has a “love affair” with the EU from former deputy leader Jim Sillars yesterday.

Both men joined forces with former Labour trade minister Nigel Griffiths at a Scottish Leave Campaign event in Edinburgh.

Every SNP Parliamentarian – including 54 MPs at Westminster and 63 Holyrood MPs – has so far endorsed the leadership’s support for remaining in the EU. This contrasts with the splits which have characterised the debate in Conservatives and Labour ranks and prompted concerns that the SNP’s renowned steely discipline is drowning out debate on an issue which is widely viewed as being “bigger” than party politics.

Mr Parker, an SNP activist, said campaigners in Cunninghame North in Ayrshire ended up withdrawing from the formal party campaign during the referendum because of their issues with the position on Europe.

“We were being told to campaign for an EU-in and London-out and again for me that seemed a bit odd. If we didn’t want to accept London rule, why was Brussels acceptable?

“It sounded anti-English which I didn’t like – and I don’t believe that anyone I’ve met in the SNP are anti-English.”

He added: “I’m a big fan of Nicola Sturgeon, I think she’s an inspiring leader. However, I don’t think we have to agree with her on every single matter and I think that’s the bit that’s catching SNP members out and support is coming across for the Leave campaign in quite a few numbers.”

He added; “It’s a strange position that the SNP have on the whole argument. It’s a strange situation if you want to be free from London but not Brussels and it doesn’t come across as anti-English. That does worry me.”

Mr Sillars said Ms Sturgeon’s claim a second independence vote could be triggered if Scotland votes to Remain and the rest vote to Leave, doesn’t stand up to analysis.

“That could only be the case if in the recent manifesto she had asked for a specific mandate if that happened, and she didn’t,” he said.

He added: “The problem with the Scottish National Party and the leadership is that they’ve never submitted any treaty of the EU to any critical appraisal since 1992.

“Alex Salmond made a speech about a fortnight ago to a very prestigious organisation in Brussels and it as a paean of praise to the European Union – nothing about TTIP, nothing about Spain, Portugal and Greece.

“The SNP seems incapable of analysing actually what is happening inside the European Union and if they made application to join the European Union as an independent state, they would find themselves rebuffed next time as they were rebuffed in 2014.

“So the SNP seems to have had some sort of love affair with the European Union and so entranced by it, they’re incapable of looking at it and seeing it for what it is – an undemocratic organisation run by an unelected elite.”

But SNP In Europe campaign director Humza Yousaf said the party has proposed a number of areas for EU reform.

He added: “The Leave campaign continue to miss the fundamental point – each of the EU’s 28 member states are independent nations who have chosen to work together for the common good.”