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Labour MSP breaks ranks to make 'left-wing' case for Brexit

Elaine Smith is the first Labour MSP to officially endorse a Leave vote.

Elaine Smith: The Labour MSP called the EU 'undemocratic'.
Elaine Smith: The Labour MSP called the EU 'undemocratic'.

A Labour MSP has used a speech in the Scottish Parliament to back a Leave vote in next month's EU referendum.

Central Scotland MSP Elaine Smith said she is voting to leave the EU next month as it does not offer the "best prospects" for the working class. The MSP also called the organisation "undemocratic".

Smith said: "From a left perspective, I think that there is a need to assess what the EU is and based on that what route is most likely to offer the best prospects for the working class and employment rights.

"And personally, I am not convinced that it is part of an undemocratic superstate with mass unemployment, falling living standards and growing inequality. We only have to look to the Greek tragedy and 50% youth unemployment in Spain to see that."

Smith also said that fellow Labour MSP who are voting to remain in the European Union in the hope of future reforms are "avoiding the reality" of how the body works.

She said: ""I think with an unelected bureaucracy at its core and a largely decorative parliament that avoids the reality that the EU's structures are so closely bound with capitalism."

The Labour MSP also downplayed the role of the European Union in winning social rights. Smith believes "most of the key rights" don't come the body but instead "stem from struggles undertaken collectively by trade unions in this country".

Smith's speech came in a debate on the European Union at Holyrood.

The Scottish Government's external affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop moved the debate in favour of the parliament endorsing a Remain vote.

Hyslop called on her opponents in the Leave campaign to stop their "smear" and "speculation" in the referendum.

She said: "This issue is quite stark, it is bigger than any of this in terms of the internal dynamics within the Conservative Party. This has got to be about the future of not just this country but the European Union as a whole and our impact on the wider world. 

"We as a parliament have to show political leadership to the people of Scotland and that's what we intend to do with the motion today. 

"I want to appeal to all involved in this debate. To the Leave campaign to cease their smear, speculation and their downright ludicrous arguments, and to the Remain campaign to realise that if the biggest risk is complacency at the polls that their incredible Project Fear tactics will dissuade, not persuade, voters to turn out at the polls.

The cabinet secretary called the organisation a "remarkable achievement" and the Scottish Government will be endorsing a Remain vote on a "positive basis".

"The EU is not perfect but it is a remarkable achievement that in over six decades has secured co-operation over conflict, pursued a shared sense of collaboration, exchange and purposeful endeavour to work in concert, not just to advance the interests of its own members but the world on a global scale. 

 "And it is on that positive basis that the Scottish Government is of the view that Scotland as part of the UK should remain in the EU."

MSPs are expected to endorse a Remain vote later on Thursday.

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