Labour were last night accused of orchestrating an exchange of letters at Westminster in order to produce a series of ridiculous claims including one that independence for Scotland would see border posts and passport controls introduced at Gretna and Berwick.
Communications between the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee, which is dominated by Labour MP’s, and Labour’s Europe Minister Chris Bryant resulted in claims that Scotland would not be allowed to remain in the EU unless it adopted the single currency, fully accepted the Common Fisheries Policy and signed up the Schengen Agreement, on which the UK and Ireland have an opt-out.
Labour MP Ian Davidson had claimed: “The SNP’s policy on this issue has been exposed as pure fantasy. They say that Scotland would still have a ‘social union’ with the rest of the UK, but their plans would cut Scotland off from the rest of the UK completely.”
Critics poured scorn on the border patrol claims and pointed out that independent Ireland, far from being cut off, retains good social relations with the rest of the UK. They have also laughed at suggestions that the EU would somehow tear up the membership a country with significant fishing reserves, the largest renewable energy potential and still massive oil and gas reserves in her waters.
First Minister Alex Salmond also ridiculed the EU membership claims by pointing out that Scotland, like England, was already inside the EU as part of a member state.
A spokesman for the First Minister said: “This is recycled scaremongering from the 1960s and 70s – the kind of ‘bogeyman in the cupboard’ Labour used to try to scare Scots with 40 years ago.
The spokesman added:
“It comes from the era even before the BBC’s Ashes to Ashes, and Scotland has moved on, even if Labour has not.”
The resurrected ‘border’ scares may be indicative of a desperate party and come as events surrounding the resignation Steven Purcell threaten to harm Labour’s election prospects in Scotland.
Sunday news reports revealed that senior Labour councillors and officials were aware ten months ago that the disgraced former Labour group leader was visited by the Scottish Crime & Drugs Enforcement Agency officers in his chambers office.
Questions will now surely be asked as to why a man known to have been questioned by drugs officers, suspected of having a drink problem and exhibiting erratic behaviour was allowed by officials and party colleagues to remain in charge of an authority with a budget of £2.5 billion.
Newspaper reports have alleged that Downing Street were aware of the cocaine rumours almost two years ago but despite being asked questions on the issue almost three weeks ago Gordon Brown has yet to clarify what was discussed.