Scotland politics

Scotland Stronger in Europe names Mona Siddiqui as chairwoman

Mona Siddiqui Image copyright Scotland Stronger in Europe
Image caption Mona Siddiqui is professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh

A Scottish-based campaign to keep the UK in the EU has named Prof Mona Siddiqui as the chairwoman of its advisory group.

Prof Siddiqui is professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at the University of Edinburgh.

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

The UK-wide campaigns to leave the EU have not yet set up Scottish operations.

Scotland Stronger in Europe, which is the Scottish arm of Britain Stronger in Europe, will formally launch later this week.

It will be headquartered in Glasgow, and has said its advisory group will be gender balanced and include people from both sides of the independence referendum debate.

It will not contain any serving politicians, recognising the intentions of several parties to run their own campaigns.

Prof Siddiqui said: "The campaign to show that Scotland is better off in Europe will be positive, factual and people-based - making the case that our quality of life is better and horizons broader by keeping our place in the European Union.

"We will be working extremely hard to contribute to a UK-wide vote to stay in Europe, whenever the referendum is called."

Prof Siddiqui is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, holds four honorary doctorates, and an honorary fellowship of the Royal Society of Scottish Architects for her contribution to public life.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, published a letter last week that set out changes to the UK's relationship with the EU

In 2011, she was awarded an OBE for her contribution to interfaith services. In 2015, she was named in the Debretts top 500 list of the most influential people in the UK.

Scotland Stronger in Europe has previously named former SNP spin doctor Kevin Pringle as its communications head and former Motherwell and Wishaw Labour MP Frank Roy as its campaign director.

And it has said John Edward, a former head of the European Parliament office in Scotland, will be its chief campaign spokesman.

In Scotland, the SNP, Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Greens all back the UK remaining part of the EU, with only UKIP opposed.

However, there are dissenting voices within the parties, with former Labour MP Nigel Griffiths heading a Scottish Labour Leave campaign and former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars saying he will campaign for the UK to leave the EU.

Dissenting voices

Polls have suggested that Scottish voters are generally more in favour of remaining in the EU than those elsewhere in the UK.

But UKIP leader Nigel Farage told BBC Scotland last week that it was a "great myth that somehow Scotland's wonderfully in love with the European Union" and claimed there had been "precious little debate on this issue in Scotland".

Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to hold the referendum on EU membership by the end of 2017, and is reported to favour a poll on 23 June.

However, the exact timing hinges on whether EU leaders agree at a summit next month to the draft package of reforms that was published last week.

The first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have urged Mr Cameron not to hold an EU referendum in June, saying it will "distract" from devolved elections taking place in May.