Scotland 'United' On Staying In The EU

26 January 2019, 08:11 | Updated: 26 January 2019, 08:18

UK and EU flags

Scotland is "more united than ever" on remaining in the EU, a Scottish Government minister has said before a cross-party rally for a People's Vote.

Scotland's Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell called on Prime Minister Theresa May to "start listening".

He said Brexit should be halted and Article 50 extended to enable a second EU referendum with an option to Remain.

Mr Russell said the refusal to rule out a no-deal Brexit is "unconscionable" and warned it risks "economic ruin".

Mr Russell said: "It is now time, in the interests of all our futures, to show political leadership, to stop the Brexit clock, to extend Article 50 and to allow another referendum on EU membership, with Remain as an option on the ballot paper.

"With her deal defeated by a thumping majority in the Commons, the Prime Minister needs to start listening and thinking seriously about where compromise and accord can be found.

"In Scotland, at least, Brexit has not had the dividing effect that we've seen at Westminster.

"In fact, over the past two-and-a-half years Scotland has become more united than ever in support for our continuing place in Europe and against the damage that Brexit will inflict."

He said the UK Government needs to "face reality", adding: "Tinkering around the edges of their deal is a doomed strategy, no-deal brinkmanship is reckless and leaving that option on the table with just over 60 days until we're due to leave the EU is unconscionable.

"We face the political challenge of our times, and we mustn't allow the Brexiteer Tories to run down the clock and drag us all into economic ruin."

He is due to speak at a Rally for Europe event in Edinburgh on Saturday about Scotland's future in Europe.

He will be joined politicians from all major parties, except the Conservatives, including Labour MP Ian Murray, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine and Green MSP Andy Wightman.

Mr Murray said: "It's clear that we must seek to extend the Article 50 process to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

"Labour Party policy, as endorsed by party conference, should be to support a people's vote, and it's time for the leadership to come off the fence and get fully behind this.

"All political parties should be working together in the national interest, so that we can offer the people of the UK the opportunity to keep the best deal we already have as a member of the EU."

Glasgow University principal Sir Anton Muscatelli will also speak at the event at Augustine United Church.

A UK Government spokesman said: "The Government's firm policy remains that we are leaving the EU on March 29 and that we will not be extending Article 50.

"What we need is to deliver on the referendum, not delay decisions. Backing the deal is the best way to do that."