MSPs say EU crucial to rural Scotland

Alyn Smith MEP

Alyn Smith MEP

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Following a vote in the Scottish Parliament overwhelmingly backing a remain vote in the EU referendum, two South Scotland MSPs have set out the benefits of EU membership for rural Scotland including Galloway.

SNP members Emma Harper and Joan McAlpine have also urged people in Dumfries and Galloway to vote for Scotland to stay in the EU on June 23rd.

The pair are also urging voters with any concerns to attend a meeting this Friday from 6pm at the Aberdour Hotel in Dumfries, where Alyn Smith MEP will be on hand to answer questions.

Last week, the Scottish Parliament voted by 106 votes to 8 for a Scottish Government motion backing “Scotland and the rest of the UK remaining part of the EU”.

They say EU membership brings real benefits to rural Scotland, particularly for jobs and the economy:

The pair say over 300,000 Scottish jobs were estimated by the Centre for Economic and Business Research to be directly and indirectly associated with exports to the EU in 2011.

They say the EU is also the top destination for Scottish exports, receiving 42% of Scotland’s International exports in 2014, worth more than £11 billion.

Ms Harper said: “With less than a month until the polls open for the EU referendum – it is vital that we speak up and speak out about the many ways in which the EU benefits rural Scotland.

“Our rural sector is supported with €4.6 billion of funding through the Common Agricultural Policy – with €3.7 billion worth of payments going to farmers – and with access to a single market of 500 million our food and drink sector has incomparable trading opportunities.

Ms McAlpine added: “Free movement also makes it easier for tourists from the rest of the EU to visit Scotland – with total visitor spend from the rest of the EU totalling £800 million annually – and for people with much needed skills to come and contribute to our communities and economy.

“Given the clear benefits of EU membership for rural Scotland, I would urge people in Dumfries and Galloway to join the overwhelming majority of the Scottish Parliament in voting to ensure that Scotland and the UK remains part of the European Union.”