SCOTLAND’S VOTE ON EUROPE…IT’S ALL THE RAGE!

That EU referendum vote may still be three months away – but Scotland is in the grip of campaign fever.

Never has a battle been more closely fought or the debate more evenly matched.

Both sides are finely balanced with all five of Scotland’s leading parties including the SNP in favour of “Vote Remain”.

Only veteran rebel Jim Sillars has come out in favour of a vote to leave the EU. In a pamphlet posted on his ScotLeave.EU Facebook page, Mr Sillars argued that the cause of independence would be best served by leaving the EU.

The debate could hardly be more equal.

Scotland’s business community is wholeheartedly in favour of staying in, with CBI Scotland solidly behind London. Other leading business lobbies are fearlessly glued to the sidelines.

“We are deeply concerned about uncertainty”, said Mungo MacTremble of IoD Scotland. “We’re strongly opposed to uncertainty. With the business outlook so uncertain, Scotland needs no more uncertainty at this time”.

Only one dissenting voice has been heard. Ronnie MacRumble, chief executive of the Inverlochlarig and District Chamber of Commerce, was dramatically suspended from his post last night after voicing pro-Brexit remarks in a pub to the Telegraph’s Alan Cochrane.

A spokesman for the Scottish Chamber of Commerce said Mr Munro would be recuperating on the Bass Rock for an indefinite period until the end of June.

The Scottish TUC has come out strongly at the weekend with an unambiguous statement of its position. “We’re in total solidarity”, declared Unite’s Jack McClocherty. “Here’s where we stand: Maybe’s Aye, and Maybe’s Naw!”

Green campaigner Patrick Harvie is mobilising the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Badger Preservation Society, Hedgehogs against Brexit and the Rare Species Alliance to form a grand coalition of animal rights campaigners in favour of Vote Remain.

The charities will receive a £900,000 grant for a fleet of specially enabled animal buses.

This week the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, leaders of the Jewish community and Scottish Episcopalians are poised to release a joint statement in favour of a vote to stay in the EU.

“It’s what a progressive Jesus would have wanted”, said a spokesman for the General Assembly.

Elsewhere BBC Scotland is planning a major TV debate chaired by Kirsty Walk and featuring leading politicians including Patrick Harvie, Willie Rennie, Fergus Ewing and Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

It will be preceded by a live broadcast from Scotland’s First Minister Ms Sturgeon. She will say that EU membership had made people “wealthier, healthier, happier and freer” and that continued membership was in the best interests of both Scotland and the UK.

But she will also make clear that if Scotland votes to remain in the EU while the UK as a whole votes to leave, it could trigger demands for a second independence referendum. “There can only be one referendum vote in the EU”, she will insist, “but two for Scottish independence if the polls look good!”

In an act of magnanimous fair play to ensure strict BBC neutrality, Ms Walk has kindly agreed to allow Jim Sillars to appear by the side of the stage in a sealed glass decontamination unit.

“It will be soundproof”, she will assure the audience, “but we will still be able to see Mr. Sillars!”

The EU debate is typical of the careful balance, tolerance, inclusiveness, fair-mindedness and respect for dissenters that has long characterised Scottish political dialogue.

Meanwhile, for pensioners and those wishing to retire to bed early on the evening of June 23, the result will be pre-announced on June 22.

What could be more fair?

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