Stepping up to the plate in 2023

The European Movement in Scotland (EMiS), the country’s leading pro-EU body, is stepping up its campaign to rejoin the European Union in 2023 with new hires and a fresh membership drive.

EU+me, another pro-European body, is joining forces with EMiS this month to give what its outgoing chair, Prof Stephen Gethins, calls “focus, scale and momentum” to the growing campaign for Scotland to rejoin the EU – in its own right or as part of the UK.

At the same time, EMiS has appointed David McDonald (SNP), a former depute leader and convener for culture, vibrancy and international relations of Glasgow City Council, to be its new membership and campaigns co-ordinator.

These moves come as David Clarke, a financial consultant and ex-journalist who has worked to develop Scotland’s financial services sector and build relations with his native Ireland, takes over from Mark Lazarowicz, the former Labour MP, as EMiS chair with a remit to grow the membership and boost the rejoin movement.

They also come on the 50th anniversary of the UK joining the then European Economic Community in 1973 and amid widespread evidence that British voters are repenting their 2016 decision to exit the EU (Brexit), increasingly tending to favour rejoining the world’s biggest peace project and trading bloc.

According to YouGov, only 32% of people across the UK now believe it was right to leave the EU while a clear majority, 56%, says it was wrong – a margin of 24 points, the widest recorded since the 2016 referendum. Almost three-quarters of young Scots wish to rejoin the EU.

Like EMiS, EU+me has been a non-partisan network of pro-Europeans making the positive case for our future as a European nation at the heart of the EU. Its outgoing chair, ex-SNP MP, Prof Gethins, is joining the EMiS executive as a co-opted member in the wake of the merger.

Stephen Gethins, former SNP MP and spokesperson for international affairs and Europe, said: “The European Union is one of the great success stories of our times. It has delivered peace, prosperity and stability to its citizens since it was founded. Every state that has joined the EU has seen an improvement in the quality of life of its citizens. The only Member State to have left, the UK, has seen a deterioration of its citizens’ quality of life.

“We all know that leaving the EU against our will has had a devastating impact on our economy, on our freedoms, protections and rights. Young people, who have had opportunity snatched away, and small businesses who have seen a dramatic increase in red tape have been particularly badly affected. It is unsurprising that support for rejoining the EU is growing in support whilst backing for remaining isolated outside is evaporating.

“This is the right time to consolidate the major pro-European campaigns in Scotland. Providing focus, scale and momentum. EMIS is the obvious point of consolidation and host for that process. From Jan 1 2023, EU&ME formalised the partnership that we have always enjoyed with colleagues in EMIS. We will now be joining forces putting our resources, innovative content and network of relationships fully behind.”

David McDonald, a long-standing European activist and third sector manager, declared: “I’m delighted to have accepted the offer to join the European Movement. This new post will be an exciting opportunity to work with grassroots groups all across the country in making the strongest possible case for Scotland’s fullest possible involvement with Europe now and in the future. 

“Our departure from the EU has had negative consequences for the country, including a decline in trade and investment, a loss of influence on the global stage, and reduced access to the single market.

“The time is right for a refreshed, positive and impactful citizens-led campaign on rejoining the European Union and l look forward to bringing my skills and experience to this new position and making a meaningful impact.”

David Clarke added: ” The statistics are becoming clearer by the day, no matter what the Brexit flat-earthers would have us believe – leaving the EU has made us poorer and our lives more difficult. As a result pro-Europeans in Scotland are uniting around the benefits of closer links with our European partners with the eventual aim of rejoining the EU. We are determined to provide a clear and evidence-based path to closer cooperation with Europe and we look forward to working with partners in Scotland and the wider UK to overturn this divisive and disastrous Brexit.”