LONDON / Bloomberg
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is urging all of Britain to vote to stay in the European Union in June’s referendum as proponents of quitting the bloc argue that the U.K. would be better off economically if it breaks away.
Sturgeon made her case in a speech Monday morning in London. The Scottish National Party leader told BBC Television a week ago that if Scots support EU membership on June 23 while the U.K. as a whole decides to leave, it would “almost certainly” trigger a second independence plebiscite.
“The Scottish government believes that EU membership is in the best interests of Scotland,” Sturgeon will say, according to speech extracts released by her office. “It will make a positive, constructive case for remaining in the EU. I believe that we benefit from being part of the EU, and the EU benefits from having us a part of it.”
Research published on Sunday by polling company YouGov Plc showed areas in Scotland are among those with the most positive attitudes toward the EU. Still, the most recent U.K.-wide opinion poll, published Friday by ORB, showed 52 percent of respondents backing a “Brexit” with 48 percent opting to stay in. The pound plunged 3.7 percent last week against the dollar, the biggest such drop in more than seven years, amid anxiety that the U.K. might vote to leave.
Scots voted to reject independence in a September 2014 referendum, but the campaign to break up the U.K. led to a surge in SNP support, and the party captured all but three of the 59 Scottish seats in the U.K. House of Commons in last year’s general election. Polls indicate the SNP is set to win a second straight majority in the Scottish Parliament in May, meaning Sturgeon would be able to call another independence vote with a renewed mandate.
On Sunday, two of the leading U.K. government ministers campaigning for an exit played up the prospects for Britain if it votes to leave the bloc, rejecting warnings from Prime Minister David Cameron, their Conservative Party leader, and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
“Britain is a great country, the people here are inventive, innovative, and they will find a way with us to actually have a real deal that gives Britain access to the world and access to Europe,” Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said on BBC TV. “Why would we have such a low opinion of the British people that we go out and talk about leaping into the dark, we talk about profound shocks, we talk about them not being capable, that we’re too small?”
The Guardian newspaper reported on a government analysis of the impact of leaving the bloc. According to the newspaper, the official document warns of “a decade or more of uncertainty” that could hurt the economic prospects of millions of voters.
The leader of the House of Commons, Chris Grayling, dismissed “scare stories” about what might happen.
“We buy far more from the European Union than they buy from us,” he told Sky News television. “If anybody is worried about the outcome at the moment, it’s continental businesses in France, in Germany, in Spain and in Italy who will not want to see trading arrangements change.”
Cameron wrote in a Sunday Telegraph newspaper article that advocates of an EU exit are “ extremely vague” when asked to set out a vision of life outside the bloc ahead of the June 23 referendum. Cameron struck a deal with fellow EU leaders this month that he says that will help him achieve his aim of reducing immigration and support his push to keep Britain in the 28-member group.
Osborne warned last week that leaving the EU would represent a “profound economic shock” for Britain, while Group of 20 finance chiefs listed it as being among the risks facing the global economy.