Kerr says exit from EU would be ‘disaster’

New MP Calum Kerr.
New MP Calum Kerr.

Calum Kerr, Berwickshire’s new SNP MP and his party’s Westminster spokesman on rural affairs, has claimed this week it would be an “absolute disaster” for the Borders if the UK comes out of the European Union.

Commenting on the eve of the EU Referendum Bill being presented to Parliament, Mr Kerr said withdrawal would risk hundreds of local jobs.

He told the Berwickshire News: “The simple fact is that European funding plays an important part in funding our vital industries in this part of Scotland and we would almost certainly lose money if we were to withdraw.

“We receive millions of pounds worth of assistance, helping to pay for everything from support for our farming industry in Berwickshire through to payments to help our farmers, aid for rural businesses via the LEADER programme and transport infrastructure projects.

“Those who wish to take us out of the EU are simply playing fast and loose with the future of the Borders.”

Mr Kerr has also waded into the row over Prime Minister David Cameron’s insistence that 16 and 17-year-olds should be excluded from the referendum vote along with EU citizens resident in the UK.

“The UK Government already fails to support us properly when it comes to funding from Brussels,” said Mr Kerr.

“We now learn he is not only prepared to put our future at risk, he is happy to subvert democracy itself by refusing to let EU citizens in Scotland as well as 16 and 17-year-olds vote.

“If we must have this referendum – and I don’t believe we should – then we must do so with the widest possible franchise.”

Mr Kerr said he and his SNP colleagues at Westminster would continue to fight, as the bill progresses, for the introduction of the so-called double majority cause, meaning that withdrawal from the EU could only take place if every one of the UK’s constituent parts – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – voted by a majority to leave.