Rejoiners are asking for Scotland to remain tied to Brussels rules as campaigners push for the SNP and other parties to pledge pro-EU policies ahead of next week’s Holyrood elections.
The European Movement in Scotland earlier this month published its 15-point manifesto for parties to adopt in the Scottish election campaign. Among its demands are for parties to “limit any negative impact of Brexit on public health by ensuring an adequate supply of medication and treatments.”
It comes despite Britain continuing to outpace the EU with its coronavirus vaccination programme. While more than 50 per cent of Brits have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 jab, just 21 per cent of people in the EU have had an injection, according to Our World in Data.
Britain’s rapid vaccine rollout means the UK is on track to lift most Covid restrictions by the end of June. Meanwhile, some EU countries have been plunged back into lockdown as case surge due to the slow pace of inoculation.
The Rejoiners are also pushing for the re-opening of negotiations on the Brexit trade deal. The group wants political parties to promise to “allow genuinely frictionless access to EU markets for the food and fishing sectors”.
There have been accusations the current deal places barriers to trade due to the need for customs checks at ports. Forcing Britain to stick close to EU rules, the group further calls for “close alignment on animal welfare, environmental and food standards”.
In such a situation Brussels has said it would remove the requirement for bureaucratic paperwork for goods crossing the short straits to the continent. However, the move would mean the UK would be left requiring to alter its laws to follow Brussels whenever there is a change in legislation made by the EU.
Other demands by the group include tying Scotland to EU climate change targets, pushing for the reintroduction of the EU’s Erasmus+ university scheme, and ensuring “Scottish interests are fully represented in EU Research Programme Committees”.
The latest push for Scotland’s eventual return to the single market from campaigners north of the border is in contrast to the UK-wide group Best for Britain.
Best for Britain was originally set up in 2017 with the aim of stopping Brexit and pushing for the UK to remain in the EU.
However, following the end of the transition period and the UK’s freedom from EU rules, the group has this morning relaunched. Now accepting the referendum result, the Best for Britain is pushing for the UK to be a leader on the world stage.
Chief Executive Naomi Smith said the group is looking to work across the Brexit divide to promote a new, global role for the UK.
“At a time when this country needs desperately to heal its self-inflicted wounds, we had to be sure that we were not continuing the battles of the past five years, but were relevant, additive and influential,” she wrote in The Times.
“As we emerge from the pandemic and ensuing recession, this will be a time for healing, and for co-operation over competition.
“And it’s a time for us all – however we voted in recent years – to pull together in being world leading, not world beating, because that’s what is best for Britain.”
A poll carried out by Best for Britain found the majority of the population is united in the UK leading the world on the biggest issues of the day.
The group said their survey showed a large majority of Brits wanted the UK to lead an internationalist approach to beat the pandemic (78 per cent), battling climate change (79 per cent), and dealing with the threats from China and Russia (76 per cent).