Scotland politics

PM's EU proposals 'lack clarity', says Hyslop

Fiona Hyslop MSP
Image caption Fiona Hyslop set out the Scottish government's "positive case" for remaining in the EU

The prime minister's proposals to reform the UK's relationship with the EU "lack clarity", according to Scotland's Secretary for Europe.

Fiona Hyslop was setting out the Scottish government's case for remaining part of the EU during a Holyrood debate.

She said there was a "strong consensus" among MSPs of the benefits to Scotland.

It comes as the EU Referendum bill is being debated for the first time in the House of Commons.

Ms Hyslop said it was unclear what David Cameron hoped to achieve from negotiations over the UK's membership of the EU.

She said: "The prime minister says that he wants to renegotiate the UK's relationship with Europe. It is far from clear what he actually wants or indeed whether his proposals will require treaty change."

She said the Scottish government would continue to "spell out" the advantages of EU membership to Scotland.

She said: "In making the positive case we ensure the facts are set out to tackle head-on the unfounded fears and smears of those who want to see an EU exit as they present them from a narrow isolationist position."

The debate was dominated by statements in favour of the UK's continued EU membership.

But Claire Baker MSP, Labour's Europe spokeswoman, warned against complacency.

She said: "We cannot ignore that there are a range of views in Scotland, we do have a UKIP MEP elected to represent Scotland and there will be many who come to this debate with a fairly open mind looking to understand the arguments and be persuaded one way or the other."

Double majority

Ms Baker said she supported the Scottish goverment's call to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the referendum, but was "not convinced" by calls for a double majority system - meaning each of the UK's four constituent parts would have to agree before an exit was possible.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called on the SNP to "see the bigger picture", claiming "defeatism and pessimism" lies at the heart of the party's double majority proposal.

He said: "I would suggest that the double-lock proposal is simply another means to advance (the independence) ambition.

"That debate was last year, we need to move on.

"We all need to put all our shoulders to the wheel to win this campaign.

"Pro-Europeans will never forgive the SNP if they devote too much effort to highlighting the divisions within the UK and insufficient effort to the greater goal of membership of the EU."

Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie McGrigor said the SNP had adopted a "mischievous" approach.

He said: "This should not be a divisive debate.

"We intend to make Europe work better, so why doesn't the Scottish government get behind us, provide support and help us deliver a better deal for Scotland?"

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