Nicola Sturgeon warns David Cameron: June referendum a 'mistake'

Posted On: 
24th January 2016

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned David Cameron it would be a "mistake" to hold the EU referendum in June.

She also warned that the campaign to keep Britain in the EU will lose if it replicates the "negative, fear-laden" No side in the 2104 Scottish independence referendum.

Speculation is mounting that if Mr Cameron strikes a deal at an EU summit later this month, he will go to the country on June 23.

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But in an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show this morning, Ms Sturgeon said that would be "disrespectful" to the Scottish, Welsh and London elections happening in May.

She said: "I think it would be a mistake for David Cameron, I had the Foreign Secretary in here last week and said as much to him directly. Two reasons why I would not be in favour of a June referendum, one you might interpret as being a bit selfish, the Scottish election is in May, indeed the Welsh, the Northern Ireland, the London elections in May.

"I think to have a referendum campaign starting in parallel would be disrespectful to those important elections. 

"The second reason is I think it would be better for David Cameron to leave more time between, if he does get a deal at the February European council, to leave more time between that deal and the decision because one of the big problems I see for the In campaign at the moment is that as far as David Cameorn is concerned, it is very much focussed on these narrow issues of renegotiation when in actual fact, if the In campaign is going to prevail, this is going to have to become a positive in principle campaign about why it's better the UK to stay within the EU. 

"While there are differences between the Scottish campaign and a European referendum, there are undoubtedly analogies and if the In campaign behaves the way the No campaign behaved in the Scottish referendum I fear it will lose.

"In the Scottish referendum the two campaigns started miles apart in the polls, we had a thoroughly negative, fear-laden campaign from the No campaign, which almost lost. In the EU referendum the two campaigns are much closer to start with and if the In campaign falls into the trap of the No campaign, I fear it will lose."

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

Ms Sturgeon also repeated her claim that a UK-wide vote for Brexit could trigger a second Scottish referendum.

She said: "If Scotland had voted to stay in and the UK as a whole votes to come out, which means Scotland faces being taken out of the EU when we don't want to be ... I think it is highly likely that would trigger an overwhelming demand for a second Scottish referendum on independence.

"The democratic outrage of being taken out of the EU against our will would make that almost inevitable."