SNP, Plaid and Greens push positive case for the EU

Written by David Singleton on 23 May 2016 in Diary

Nicola Sturgeon also argued that David Cameron's negative Brexit warning 'insults people's intelligence'.

A trio of senior female politicians have made a unusually positive intervention in the debate over the European Union.

SNP leader and Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon joined forces with Green MP Caroline Lucas and Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood to host a joint press conference.

In a radical move that flies in the face of campaigning methods adopted by most leading figures in the Brexit debate so far, the trio avoided seeking to scare voters into action - and instead focused on the benefits of EU membership.

They argued that the EU had been vital in securing maternity and paternity rights as well as protecting people at work. Unlike some other politicians, they also made it clear they are in favour of protecting the principle of free movement within the EU.

They issued a joint statement making a positive case for the EU:

“The European Union is not perfect and we would each propose changes, but we believe that the benefits of the EU are significant.

“The EU is good for working people across Scotland, Wales and England - with rules limiting the amount of hours we have to work, providing equal treatment for part-time and agency workers and guaranteeing health and safety at work.

“Being a part of the European Union is good for women. From maternity and paternity leave for parents, work place rights during pregnancy, to rules protecting against harassment and unequal treatment, women in Britain benefit from the EU. Crucially, these rules – which span the continent – help halt a race to the bottom of firms trying to find the least protected workforce where workers enjoy the fewest rights.

“The EU also gives us all the freedom to live, work, study and retire in any one of 28 countries. That freedom of movement – which has been so beneficial to our economy here in the UK – is often the focus of attack by other parties, but we celebrate it and call on the government to do more to ensure that it works for everyone.”

As well as vowing to make the positive case for Britain to stay in the EU, Sturgeon also hit out at David Cameron and George Osborne for doing the opposite.

Her comments appeared to expose for the first time the splits over strategy among senior figures in the Remain campaign.

The prime minister and chancellor today released a Treasury analysis warning of a fall in GDP, lower house prices and job losses.

But Sturgeon said: "I think the Treasury, like they did in the Scottish independence referendum, are likely to be over-stating their case.

"That kind of fear-based campaigning that starts to insult people's intelligence can have a negative effect.

"I have control over how I campaign and I'm going to make a positive and progressive case.

"I don't think it's helpful, and I don't think anyone will be surprised to hear me say this, that when you hear big numbers that appear to be somewhat incredible, that doesn't necessarily help the issue."

Lib Dem grandee Shirley Williams was also heard telling Sturgeon that the Remain campaign had been "awful".



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