Labour councillors last week refused to back a motion welcoming Nicola Sturgeon’s efforts to keep Scotland in the EU following Brexit.
Their opposition came as Labour MSPs at Holyrood backed the First Minister’s attempts to maintain Scotland’s place in the EU.
The Midlothian Labour Group refused to back the SNP’s amended motion at last week’s full council meeting because of the final sentence – “we welcome the First Minister’s determination to ensure that Scotland is not forced out of the EU against the democratic wishes of the Scottish people.”
Labour group leader Councillor Derek Milligan, who had campaigned to leave the EU, claimed that the motion was giving Ms Sturgeon “a blank cheque”. He said: “The sentiment of the amendment in the main is probably welcomed by most people around the table.
“However I have problems agreeing to the very last bit.
“I don’t know what that means, I don’t know what the cost of that is, I don’t know what the implications of that is. Does it mean that the biggest trading partner we have, the UK, is to remain that? Effectively we have been asked to endorse a blank cheque. ”
Councillor Kelly Parry (SNP), who proposed the original motion noting the EU referendum result, said: “I think the last part of the amendment is very important, because it talks about the democratic will of the Scottish people and I think that all of us around this table regardless of party or standing in the Scottish Independence referendum were quite aware of the argument that if Scotland and indeed Midlothian wanted to stay in the EU then they needed to vote against independence. It’s quite clear now that was not the case.
“In the Scottish Parliament this has been taken with cross-party sentiment. So for the Labour party here to try and propose to take that part out when you have got the Labour party, Lib Dems, SNP and Greens all singing from the same hymn sheet in the Scottish Parliament, it leaves you on the side of the Tories.”
The SNP motion was approved by ten votes to seven against Labour’s proposal to remove the final sentence.