Former UK Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell yesterday urged Nicola Sturgeon to back a referendum on the Brexit deal as he joined hundreds of campaigners to demand a People’s Vote.
The Lib Dem veteran became the latest figure to try to put pressure on the SNP to join the People’s Vote campaign when he joined an estimated 1,000 people at the rally.
Campbell did not address the crowd directly at Festival Square, Edinburgh, but was there to support a list of speakers that included the impressionist Rory Bremner, the former BBC journalist Gavin Esler, the actress Emma Currie and Professor Malcolm Macleod of Edinburgh University who warned of the damage Brexit would inflict on the NHS. The veteran Lib Dem, who now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, did not take to the platform to address the crowds.
But speaking to Scotland on Sunday, he said: “Successive opinion polls show very clearly that supporters of all the parties in Scotland, with the possible exception of the Conservatives, want a people’s referendum. So much has been said about the will of the people and if ever there was a time for the whole Scottish political establishment to unite behind a people’s referendum it is now. The momentum is with us.”
The SNP and Sturgeon have said they will not stand in the way of a People’s Vote, but they have resisted supporting it formally. Senior figures in the party are worried that doing so would set an unhelpful precedent in the event of a Yes vote for Scottish independence. Campaigners waved placards saying “Just Say No to Brexit” and “We Demand a People’s Vote on the Brexit Deal” congregated in the centre of Edinburgh to hear several speakers. Bremner was not on the original list of speakers for the event, but he showed up to lampoon Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. The impressionist said: “Boris Johnson said the Brexit dream is dying and I believe it died the day it became a reality. I think we now realise the extent to which we are haemorrhaging soft power.”
A SNP spokesman said: “The Lib Dems need to explain how they could guarantee Scotland’s decision to remain in the EU would not be ignored a second time.”