By Bob Duncan
Michael Moore has absolutely no credibility on the issue of Scotland’s EU membership, the SNP has said, with the real threat coming from his own Coalition government in Westminster.
The Scotland Secretary used his address to the Scottish Lib Dem Conference today in Dunfermline to claim that an independent Scotland’s EU membership would be in doubt – less than 24 hours after a succession of Coalition politicians had lined up to demand Britain’s complete withdrawal from Europe.
Mr Moore’s assertion came despite Lord Mackenzie-Stuart – a judge with the European Court of Justice between 1973 and 1988, and President from 1984-88, having said: “Independence would leave Scotland and something called ‘the rest’ in the same legal boat. If Scotland had to reapply, so would the rest. I am puzzled at the suggestion that there would be a difference in the status of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of Community law if the Act of Union was dissolved.”
In yesterday’s Commons debate which threatened to reopen the arguments that ripped the Tories apart in the 1990s, Tory MP Douglas Carswell likened Britain’s membership of the EU to being “shackled to a corpse” as he attempted to secure support to repeal the European Communities Act (1972).
This comes just a year after 81 Conservative MPs defied their Party whip to vote in favour of holding a referendum on withdrawal.
SNP MSP Christina McKelvie – Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Relations Committee – said that if Michael Moore was defending Scotland’s interests, which is after all his job description, then he should demand that the speculation on UK withdrawal from the EU should cease immediately.
She said: “For Michael Moore to stand up and claim that Scotland’s EU membership would be jeopardised by independence – when he is tied in coalition with the Tories whose MPs and members are queuing up to demand the UK’s complete withdrawal from the EU – is patently absurd.
“Michael Moore and the Lib Dems have no more credibility on Scotland in Europe than they do on tuition fees – which is to say none whatsoever.
“While the Scottish Government – just like the people of Scotland – are committed to having a strong Scottish voice in Europe, the ripple of discontent amongst Tory MPs is rapidly becoming a torrent of anti-EU sentiment.
“If Mr Moore is serious about securing Scotland’s membership in the EU, he should be demanding that his Prime Minister get a grip and end the Little Englander movement on the Tory backbenches.
“The fact is, there is no provision for the EU to expel its citizens, and the people of Scotland have been EU citizens since the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.
“It was Lord MacKenzie-Stuart himself – the only Scots judge to sit on the European Court of Justice – who said that an independent Scotland would be in exactly the same position as the rest of the UK.
“The fact that Mr Moore’s Tory coalition partners are so hell-bent on ripping the UK out of Europe makes the case for Scottish independence even stronger.”
Meanwhile, Michael Moore’s speech to the Lib Dem’s Scottish Conference on Saturday, has revealed the complete hypocrisy of anti-independence politicians on the issue of referendum rules, after it emerged that a significant number of them had individually backed the equitable proposals put forward by the Scottish Government.
In response to the Scottish Government’s referendum consultation, the newly-published responses shows that there is backing for the proposed spending limits from across the political spectrum. The individual responses can be read here.
Labour party responses on the spending limits include:
Elaine Murray MSP who stated that “these seem appropriate”, Malcolm Chisholm MSP who stated that “I am content with this proposal” and Mark Griffin MSP who stated “I agree there should be a limit and believe the proposals are reasonable”.
Also, Catherine Stihler MEP stated “I agree with the statement in the consultation that ‘no political party or organisation should have an unfair advantage over another’; it is crucial that the Referendum Bill reflects this sentiment.”
Tory responses include Nanette Milne MSP who stated that the proposed limits were “fine” and Jamie McGrigor MSP who stated that “I agree with the proposals.”
SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell – a Member of the Scottish Parliament’s newly-established Referendum (Scotland) Bill Committee said:
“The anti-independence campaign are guilty of complete hypocrisy – it is they who want to ‘rig’ the referendum rules to allow the anti-independence camp to massively outspend the pro-independence campaign.
“It is quite incredible that after all the sound and fury, it emerges that several anti-independence politicians in fact fully endorse the equitable funding limits that have been proposed by the Scottish Government.
“The referendum is too important to be conducted on anything other than a scrupulously fair basis, where neither side is awarded an unfair spending advantage.
“It is clear from the consultation responses that a significant number of anti-independence politicians fully accept that.
“To clear up the confused position that the anti-independence parties have gotten themselves into, Mr Moore should come clean on whether he wants to see the referendum conducted on an equal footing, or justify why he believes spending limits should be skewed in favour of one side.”