Cut to a whisper

In 1999, Scotland had eight MEPs. In 2004 due to other European countries joining the EU that was reduced to 7. With more countries joining the EU, the UK has had to cut its number from 78 to 73.

There was cross-party support in Scotland to keep our 7 MEPs and they hoped that such a lobby would keep its MEP numbers intact. Alas, Westminster has decided to cut Scotland’s numbers further down to 6 MEPs.

New numbers for MEPs sample selection (low numbered nations):-
3 Northern Ireland
4 Wales
5 Malta
6 Luxembourg
6 Cyprus
6 Estonia
6 Scotland
7 Slovenia
9 Latvia
12 Ireland
13 Finland
14 Denmark

As you can see both Malta and Luxembourg by dint of their independence have 5 and 6 MEPs respectively.

Both have a population less than Edinburgh. They have more influence in Europe than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. They are Members of the Council of Europe, attend European summits, and each have the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on a rotating basis with all of the other members.

Ireland has a population about 1 million less than Scotland with twice as many MEPs.

Denmark has a population around Scotland’s size with 14 MEPs.

And this Labour Westminster Government wants to cut our representation?!

Scotland will now have lost 25 % of its representation in the last ten years.

Incidentally, Germany over the same time period and with new nations joining Europe has the exact same number of MEPs; 99. Luxembourg who will have exactly the same number of MEPs as Scotland with under a tenth of the population of Scotland are also unchanged.

Northern Ireland has a fixed ratio of three MEPs as the EU class that as a region. Regions can’t go below 3 MEPs.

If Northern Ireland was independent that number, with a population comparable to Slovenia, would rise to 7.

Wales, like Scotland and Northern Ireland, is considered a region and hence both can’t have less than 3 MEPs. Wales has lost none of its representation over the same period.

If the Welsh are feeling happy about this, I’ll just remind them that Wallonia, a region of Belgium, with roughly the same population, has 9 MEPs. And Latvia, an independent country with around 2 million people, has that many MEPs. Wales would have 11 MEPs if independent on that basis.

England will have 60 MEPs, but if independent that number would rise to about 70.

Scotland will now have the same number of MEPs as Yorkshire.

With its large geographical area – although you wouldn’t know it if you looked at a BBC weathermap – its own Parliament and legal systems that implement EU legislation; you may have thought Scotland had a great case for retaining its already meagre influence.

Not according to Bridget Prentice, the UK Electoral Affairs minister and Labour MP for Lewisham East.

She told Struan Stevenson, a Conservative MEP, just one of the cross-party support of Scotland’s case: “I acknowledge the issue of distance that Scottish MEPs face and would suggest taking steps to mitigate the time burden of travelling across the Scottish electorate, such as allocating travel responsibilities among the Scottish MEPs or more frequent use of video-conferencing.”

So she proposing dividing up Scotland between the MEPs? Our Scottish MEPs are elected for the whole of Scotland; that’s their constituency! How can she face her fellow Scottish Labour MEPs and MSPs, similarly campaigning for Scotland’s euro voice?

No wonder Mr Stevenson had this to say on her ideas: “Bridget Prentice has a fairly scant understanding of the Scottish dimension – surprisingly for a woman who is herself Scottish – but she’s been closeted too long in the cushy southern shires of England and forgotten the geography of Scotland. Her trite ideas, like video-conferencing and sharing travel, are ludicrous to the point of being risible.”

Surely its time for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland to have their own voices in Europe.

Scotland having its own voice would stop the situation where our fishing industry and Scottish ministers and MEPs are ignored by the UK Government.

A UK Government that has just cut Scotland’s voice in Europe to a whisper.

Its time to tell Westminster where to go!

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