Douglas Carswell, Conservative Member of Parliament for Clachton in Essex, has amplified the pressure on the UK to leave the European Union by defecting to Ukip (the anti-EU party).
Mr Carswell’s decision follows Ukip’s victory in England in May’s European elections. In Scotland Ukip trailed the SNP, Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats.
As a result of growth of opposition to the EU in polls, David Cameron has promised an in-out referendum on EU membership. There is also pressure for Labour leader Ed Miliband to equal this commitment.
Carswell has a significant majority in Clacton and will contend a by-election to publicise the campaign to exit the EU. This is another indication of rising euroscepticism in Westminster political circles. It is likely that a vote to leave the EU in England would take Scotland out of the EU however people in Scotland voted.
Threat of EU exit damages No Campaign
The timing of this resignation couldn’t be worse for David Cameron and the No Campaign. Today Mr Cameron is in Glasgow to claim that Westminster provides stability for Scotland’s economy.
This claim was contradicted this morning by 200 business leaders who called for a vote in favour of Scottish independence. In an open letter they highlighted the opportunities for jobs and investment that come with a Yes vote.
Business people had previously spoken out at the risk a No vote poses to EU membership, and access to European Union institutions, frameworks and markets.
How can David Cameron promise stability for Scotland when he can’t even keep his own MPs on board with EU policy? Leading members of the cabinet including Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond have said they would vote to leave the EU.
Independent EU membership benefits Scotland
In contrast a vote for independence would bring many benefits for Scotland – both economically and politically. Direct access to negotiations on the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy will benefit Scotland’s fishing and farming communities. Participation in European forums will also increase opportunities for Scotland’s exporters.
Politically, Scotland would gain representation at the Council of Ministers and greater representation in the European Parliament. A louder voice in Europe will benefit Scotland’s businesses and the interests of Scotland as a whole. A seat at the top table is a benefit of independence.
While the political agenda at Westminster slides further towards an EU exit, Scotland has an opportunity to confirm a new, equal relationship within Europe with independence.