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29 Feb, 2016 11:15

EU membership in Scotland’s best interest – Nicola Sturgeon

EU membership in Scotland’s best interest – Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set off on a “wholehearted” campaign to remain in the EU, dismissing criticism there is any contradiction in being pro-Scottish independence and pro-EU.

Speaking to a crowd of 700 on Monday, Sturgeon said: “For more than 40 years, membership of the European Union has been good for the prosperity and well-being of individuals, families and communities across the country.” 

Sturgeon reiterated there was “a real chance” that a ‘No’ vote could trigger a second Scottish independence referendum.

She warned Prime Minister David Cameron against leading a “miserable, negative, fear-based” campaign, and urged ‘In’ campaigners to instead make a “positive, constructive case.”

Her speech comes after a government report warned that a vote to the leave the European Union could plunge the UK into a “decade of uncertainty.”

The Cabinet Office review suggested that car manufacturing, financial services, farming and the lives of millions of Britons living in Europe would be made harder by a Brexit.

The report, seen first by the Guardian on Monday, also warned that the two-year exit timeline outlined by Euroskeptics vastly underestimated the amount of time of it would take to leave the EU.

“A vote to leave the EU would be the start, not the end, of a process. It could lead to up to a decade or more of uncertainty,” it said.

Leading ‘Out’ supporters however have dismissed the report as scaremongering, with London Mayor Boris Johnson saying ‘In’ campaigners are engaging in “project fear.”

“These threats are so wildly exaggerated as to be nonsense,” Johnson wrote in his weekly column for the Telegraph.

“I am ever more convinced that the real risk is to sit back and do nothing, to remain inertly and complacently in an unreformed EU that is hell-bent on a federal project over which we have no control.”

Euroskeptic Commons leader Chris Grayling echoed Johnson’s comments, saying there is “no evidence” to back the report.

“Why on earth would we think it would take quite as long as the Second World War to be able to sort out our trading relationships with Europe and elsewhere?” he told the BBC.

International business leaders have meanwhile cautioned against a Brexit. Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, who owns Britain’s Sunseeker yachts and the firm behind the One Nine Elms development in Battersea, said Chinese investors may move elsewhere if Britons vote to leave.

Qantas CEO Alan Choice told the Financial Times it would be in Britain’s economic interest to stay in the bloc.