Scottish EU remain campaign launches in Edinburgh

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remain launch
Image caption,
The official launch was followed by an event for photographers in Glasgow

The official Scottish campaign to keep the UK in the European Union has been launched in Edinburgh.

Scotland Stronger in Europe's event featured the chairwoman of its advisory group, Prof Mona Siddiqui.

It coincides with the publication of a survey by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce indicating its members' support for EU membership.

Meanwhile, former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has called on nationalists to vote against the EU.

Prof Siddiqui has pledged to ensure Scotland Stronger in Europe makes a "positive, factual, people-based" case for the EU.

Image caption,
John Edward, Mona Siddiqui and Jayne-Anne Baxter launched the Scotland Stronger in Europe campaign

Speaking at the launch, she said: "Our campaign is different from previous referendums in Scotland, and different from the Stronger In campaign in the rest of the UK.

"It doesn't include political parties, and instead we are looking to connect with people in their own communities, workplaces, trade unions, and civic organisations across Scotland.

"This week's endorsement for staying in Europe from the Scottish Council Development and Industry, for example - whose membership spans every sector and geography of Scotland's economy - is extremely welcome."

Business views

Prof Siddiqui added: "The economic case to stay in Europe and have full, guaranteed access to the single market is compelling, but the European Union also means a legacy of stability and security as well as prosperity.

"The European Union has been a force for good in our continent and the wider world, and I hope and believe that the people of Scotland will vote to stay."

Also speaking at the launch event was Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money, who warned that "people will be very materially worse off if we leave the UK".

She said there was a "clear" business and social justice case for remaining in the EU, adding "Scotland's economic prosperity is critically linked to equal access to the biggest single market in the world".

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Two-thirds of Scottish businesses voiced support for EU membership in a recent survey

This was broadly backed by the results of a survey by the Scottish Chambers of Commerce on EU membership.

A total of 350 members responded. Continuing EU membership was backed by 68% of them, and opposed by 22%.

A UK-wide Chambers of Commerce survey also indicated backing for the remain case, although by a narrower margin.

The Vote Leave campaign said the survey showed businesses were rejecting the Remain campaign's "tactic of talking down Britain and its dynamic economy".

John Longworth, chairman of the camapign's business council and former director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Business is not fearful of the referendum or the result. This is because they know it is safer to take back control and spend our money on our priorities."

'Barrier to aspirations'

Meanwhile, the campaign to leave the EU has been backed by veteran nationalist Jim Sillars.

Writing for Common Space, Mr Sillars described EU membership as "a barrier to our aspirations rather than a facilitator of them".

He added: "The question at the heart of this referendum is simple: do we want to continue being governed by an organisation we do not elect and cannot reject or do we want to bring democracy home, in exactly the way generations of nationalists have urged us to?

"If the UK comes out of the EU, then Scotland will be free of all EU interference in our domestic affairs, including on the issue of independence, where their past interventions have damaged our cause."