Holyrood, 27 October 2003
An SNP MSP is to sponsor a Member's Bill that would deliver a referendum in Scotland on the proposed European constitution, it emerged today. Nicola Sturgeon says a referendum would force the Government at Westminster to take "Scotland's interests seriously". She said the move will give Scots the opportunity to have a voice in Europe on issues such as the future of the fishing industry.
"Knowing that the people of Scotland were to have the chance to vote on the final draft of the constitution might help focus the minds of the London Government and persuade them to start
representing Scotland's interests at the Intergovernmental Conference," said Ms Sturgeon.
Work on the draft constitution is under way to replace the European treaties which have evolved over the past 50 years with a basic set of laws.
Each member state will have to ratify the constitution but there are no plans in the UK to hold a referendum.
"By refusing to hold a referendum, the Labour Government is simply allowing the anti-European lobby to claim the moral high ground.
"But for Scotland there is another reason to support a
"The draft constitution is worthy of support. It enshrines the EU as it should be - a confederation of states, choosing in certain areas and for the greater good of all, to share sovereignty.
"But for Scotland it has one fundamental flaw. It would give exclusive competence over fishing to the EU. Scotland's fishermen know to their cost the damage that EU stewardship has already done to the industry.
"Now is the time to repatriate control over fishing, not hand even more of it away to Brussels. If Scotland were an independent state, represented at the Intergovernmental Conference that is in the process of finalising the constitution, we would have the right to veto the fishing clause."