Attn: NEWS DESKS / POLITICAL CORRESPONDENTS
For immediate release: Tuesday 2nd February 2016
SALMOND TELLS CAMERON JUNE DATE "DISRESPECTFUL"
SNP Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alex Salmond MP has told the Prime Minister that a June date for the EU referendum would inevitably "conflict" with the devolved elections and therefore be disrespectful to the democratic process in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.
Mr Salmond said:
"Your junior Minister David Lidington quoted me several times today in the emergency statement as pointing to the necessary six week period between the devolved elections and the referendum.
“However, while six weeks clearance is a necessary condition it is not a sufficient one. The reasons are clear. A June 23rd date would clear the purdah period but would still involve your government moving the statutory instrument, with the necessary ten weeks notice, in the middle of the devolved election campaigns. It would therefore both conflict with the devolved polls and be disrespectful of the process.
“Futhermore, it would mean that the devolved administrations would come out of a purdah period after the election and after a gap of a week or so move straight back into one. Given that the devolved administrations take these issues seriously and abide by the purdah period this is highly unsatisfactory for good governance and also totally unnecessary.
“Finally you may be aware that the Scottish school holidays start in many cases on June 24th and therefore the last thing on the minds of many families the day before will be voting in a Euro poll.
“For all of the above reasons can I suggest a September date would be more respectful. The anxiety which you seem to be showing for a June date does lead to the question of why you believe the European case, of which I am a strong advocate, could not stand the scrutiny a properly engaged campaign? You surely cannot believe this to be the case.
“An alternative, and more likely explanation, is that a short campaign is designed to minimise the extent of the obvious divisions within the Conservative party.
“Neither of these reasons would justify a June dash to the polls on a matter of such importance and, if this indeed is your intent, I do hope you will now reconsider.”
The letters are available on request.
SNP Westminster Press Office - 0207 219 0530