Stephen Gethins, Member of Parliament (MP) for North East Fife, has told The Courier that, “the UK could thrive as an independent country outside of the EU.”
Mr Gethins is the deputy campaign director for the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) ‘Remain’ campaign, as well as being the SNP spokesperson for Europe.
He has previously been openly supportive of the UK’s continued membership of the European Union, stating in a comment to the BBC that “the SNP will make the positive case for Scotland and the UK’s continued membership of the EU” and that Scotland “must not be dragged out of the EU against its will.”
Speaking to The Saint, Mr Gethins said that his comment had been made in light of the fact that “it is vitally important during this referendum campaign that we have an informed and responsible debate.
“This means moving away from the fear tactics deployed during the independence referendum and that some have used during this campaign,” he said.
He reiterated his earlier comment regarding the ability of the UK to “thrive” outside of the EU, stressing that “this means demonstrating that of course the UK could be successful outside of the EU” while clarifying that he remains committed to the idea “that we are better served remaining a part of the EU.”
St Andrews Students for Europe said that Mr Gethins’ comment was “highly contrary to the virtually unanimous SNP support for Europe, virtually unanimous Labour support for Europe and the official Tory party stance.”
They highlighted concerns with withdrawing from the EU surrounding the fact that protections, such as worker’s rights legislation currently “enshrined in EU law”, could disappear if “left to the whim of a Westminster government and thus the workplace could potentially become a lot more exploitative.”
Saying that Mr Gethins’ comment was “peculiar” the group also added that they find it concerning “that every time someone comes out for leaving it tends to make the news – whereas it doesn’t always appear to make the news when people come out in favour of staying.”
The EU referendum takes place on the 23 June, and British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK are eligible to vote.
Eligible citizens can add their name to the electoral register online, in order to be able to vote in the referendum.