Pro-EU supporters in Edinburgh joined with comrades across a number of other cities in Europe on Saturday to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the document that established the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1957.
The march came days before the United Kingdom Government is expected to trigger Article 50, commencing a two year run of negotiations with the European Union (EU).
The march commenced at Waterloo Place near Princes Street in the city centre, making it’s way down Regent Road before turning onto Abbey Mount and Abbeyhill. It marched past the Scottish Parliament before settling outside the building.
A range of speakers addressed the crowd, including politicians from different parties and non-political figures. The Chairman of Young European Movement Edinburgh Jean François-Poncet expressed a defiant tone, “We have chosen to get together today under the blue and golden flag, the European flag.”
Vanessa Glynn is the Chairwoman of European Movement in Scotland and proudly asserted her identity, “English by birth, Irish by ancestry, Scottish by choice and European through and through.”
The pro-independence Scottish National Party are currently the party of government in Scotland. Their Westminster representative for Edinburgh South West Joanna Cherry QC MP established the Scottish Government’s willingness to keep Scotland within the European single market, “The Scottish Government offered Theresa May a compromise.
“They suggested perhaps that one way forward would be for Scotland to stay in the single market and they produced a detailed proposal to that effect. And as yet, they have not had the courtesy of a written reply.
“When a second independence referendum is held in Scotland, as before, EU nationals in Scotland will be given a vote. We will not deny you a vote.”
The Scottish Liberal Democrats are pro-UK, but are also pro-EU. Their Scottish Parliament representative for Edinburgh Western Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP hailed the impact of the crowd and said it was important for political institutions like the Scottish Parliament to hear the willingness of the crowd to retain their rights within the EU, “Edinburgh, you look amazing today and you are in fantastic voice.
“It’s so important, because those words need to be heard in this building they need to be heard in Westminster and they need to be heard in Brussels. We matter, we are united and we are citizens of the European Union.
“For the price of a latte, each week we get the ability to live where we want, work where we want and retire where we want and I know that every one of you want to retain those rights and we will do exactly that.”
Scotland voted Remain with 62% of the vote, but over a million voters north of the border did back leaving the EU. The campaign group Business for Brexit backed Brexit. Mev Brown is their former spokesman in Scotland, “I hope and expect common sense to prevail.
“I do appreciate and understand that and I’m sure British negotiators will also understand that European Union feelings have been hurt by the Brexit vote. Most of them have been shocked, most of them have been upset.
“Like any other loss, it’s something that they’ll have to work through in their own way and hopefully beyond that point, common sense will prevail in the negotiations with Britain and the European Union negotiators.”
In June 2016, voters across the UK who participated in the EU referendum backed Brexit by 52% to 48%. Northern Ireland also backed staying in the EU, but England and Wales opted to leave.
On 13 March 2017, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told journalists at Bute House that she intended to seek a section 30 order from the UK Government to hold a second independence referendum by spring 2019. British Prime Minister Theresa May told the Political Editor of ITV News Robert Peston in a television interview that ‘now is not the time’ for such a second plebiscite.
This coming Tuesday, the Scottish Parliament is expected to back a second independence referendum. The following day, the UK Government will trigger Article 50 meaning that two years of negotiations between the UK and the EU will begin.
In 1993, the EEC became the European Community (EC), before it largely absorbed into the modern day EU. The EU consists of twenty eight member states, including the UK which is soon expected to leave by 2019 after last June’s EU referendum.