SCVO to ask for views on a second EU referendum

The umbrella body is concerned that the Scottish government is being sidelined in Brexit negotiations, delegates at a fringe session at the Labour Party conference are told

SCVO: Brexit concerns
SCVO: Brexit concerns

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations will ask its members for their views on a second EU referendum amid concerns about how Brexit is being negotiated.

John Downie, director of public affairs at the SCVO, told a fringe event at the Labour Party conference yesterday that the umbrella body planned to ask its members about the possibility of a "people’s vote" or a second referendum on the UK’s EU membership, amid wider concerns about Scotland being sidelined in the negotiations by the UK government.

There were increased calls at the conference for a second referendum given concerns that the UK was heading for a no-deal Brexit.

Downie warned that the way negotiations were being carried out was sidelining the Scottish government and that this was "changing people’s perspective" in Scotland.

He said charities in Scotland were becoming increasingly vocal about Brexit, and also about further devolution for Scotland.

"We normally find it hard to get member organisations to speak out on either side of the devolution debate or the Brexit debate," he said. "Not any longer.

"There are people who think that, going forward, organisations will be taking a much stronger view."

The negotiations also showed that the Scottish government had "no influence on the UK government" and the UK government was "not listening".

Anna Nicholl, director of strategy and sector development at the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, said Welsh charities had two major concerns, one of which was how Brexit would affect society.

In particular, Welsh charities were concerned with how Brexit would affect rights, such as environmental and workers' rights, she said, as well as issues around immigration and increased hate crime.

Nicholl said the other key issue for Welsh charities was funding, because Wales was a net beneficiary of EU funding, having received £2bn of structural funds between 2014 and 2020.

She also echoed concerns about the Welsh government not being consulted during Brexit negotiations.

The WCVA earlier this year helped to launch a Brexit civil society forum to coordinate charities’ responses to Brexit.

Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP for Aberavon and a member of the House of Commons Exiting the European Union Committee, told the session that any second referendum had to have a "remain" option on the ballot paper, but he was concerned that another referendum would damage attempts to reunite the country.

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