Nicola Sturgeon: EU membership vital for Scots jobs

NICOLA Sturgeon has insisted she has no plans to share platforms with David Cameron or George Osborne as part of the campaign to stay within the European Union.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will stress the Scottish Government's commitment to Europe. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The First Minister believes that membership of the EU is crucial to Scottish jobs and economy – a message she is set to take to an audience in Brussels this week.

The SNP leader said she hoped figures other than politicians would come to the fore of the debate and said she would not be campaigning alongside the Prime Minister or Chancellor for a “Yes” vote in the referendum on EU membership promised by the end of 2017.

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Ms Sturgeon said: “Well, I’ve got no plans to share platforms with David Cameron or George Osborne or anybody else in the Conservative Party.

“I’ll make a case as leader of the SNP, as First Minister of Scotland, based on my belief that Scotland’s interests and, I would argue, the UK’s interests, are best served by being within the European Union.

“I hope we see many non-politicians come to the fore of this debate as well and make the positive case for Scotland and the UK remaining within the European Union. Yes, I’ve been perfectly open about the imperfections of the European Union, about the flaws and the deficiencies of the European Union as it currently is, but arguing the case for sensible reforms and also arguing the case that our economic interests are best served by being within.”

Ms Sturgeon also said: “I think what is dangerous about the approach David Cameron is taking right now is that he is taking the UK perilously close to the exit door and I think that’s wrong.”

Ms Sturgeon will visit Brussels tomorrow to deliver her first speech in the EU capital since becoming First Minister.

She has said her message will be a simple one: that her government sees the country’s future as one of continued European Union membership.

The First Minister is expected to say: “I firmly believe that membership of Europe is in Scotland’s best interests and have done for all of my adult life.

“We value Scotland’s place in Europe, and the benefits it brings in terms of jobs and investment, with more than 300,000 Scottish jobs estimated to be associated with our exports to the European Union.

“Perhaps most fundamentally of all, the freedom to travel, study and work across Europe has brought major benefits to Scotland. At present there are 171,000 people from elsewhere in the European Union who live and work in Scotland.

“They contribute hugely to the diversity of our culture, the prosperity of our economy and the strength of our society.

“Polls in Scotland consistently show strong support for EU membership. That is why we will propose a ‘double lock’, meaning that exit from the European Union would only be possible if all UK nations agreed. That way Scotland couldn’t be forced out of the European Union against our will.”

Speaking to business leaders in Edinburgh last week, Ms Sturgeon reiterated her opposition to the Tories’ in-out referendum on UK membership of the EU, and said her government would “work to protect Scotland’s