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Scottish Parliament voted in favour of remaining part of the EU

Members of the Scottish Parliament have overwhelming voted in favour of remaining part of the European Union.

MSPs backed by 106 votes to eight a motion making clear the Parliament's support for both Scotland and the rest of the UK staying in the EU.

Seven of those who voted against were Tories - including new MSP Oliver Mundell, the son of Scottish Secretary David Mundell - with Elaine Smith of Labour the only other MSP opposed.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop welcomed the result of the vote, saying: "The EU is founded on the principles of solidarity and mutual support. It is much more than a simple trade association. It is based on the principles of strengthening peace, security, justice and prosperity for all.

"Our place in the EU has guaranteed workers in Scotland employment rights such as maternity leave, and has helped our businesses to innovate, grow and flourish.

"For Scottish businesses, it's an opportunity to operate within the world's largest trading area of 500 million consumers, 42% of Scotland's international exports, worth around £11.6 billion in 2014, are destined for the EU."

She continued: "Migration from the EU also benefits the communities, businesses and people of Scotland, helping meet crucial skills gaps in Scotland's economy. In my own portfolio, the tourism industry needs access to European workers.

"What today's debate demonstrated is that there are a huge number of benefits to EU's membership. As the referendum campaign enters its final weeks, it is important to ensure that voters are presented with reassured and rational arguments about our future relationship with the EU."

Scottish Conservative external affairs spokesman Jackson Carlaw criticised the "litany of competing apocalyptic arguments on either side" as he too set out why he wanted to stay in the EU.

Mr Carlaw said: "Ultimately I want to be an internationalist not an isolationist, and therefore I want to vote with all those others who wholeheartedly decide on June 23 that the right decision for this country is a vote to Remain."

In the debate, just three MSPs made speeches in favour of leaving the EU - Tories Margaret Mitchell and Graham Simpson and Labour's Ms Smith.

Ms Mitchell branded the European Union a "failing and outdated institution", as she highlighted the immigration issue.

"The access these economic migrants gain to our benefits system impacts adversely on pensions and other benefits which UK citizens have worked, in some cases a lifetime, to secure," she said.

Fellow Tory MSP Mr Simpson claimed the EU is "nothing more than a political project".

He argued: "It's a first class gravy train, with no stops, where the buffet car serves only the finest food and never mind the cost. And it's one way to ever closer union. We have the chance to pull the emergency cord and jump off, to set ourselves on another, freer course."

Meanwhile Ms Smith said the EU had "actually played in intensifying austerity and reactionary politics".

She told MSPs: "Personally, I am not convinced that (the best route) is being part of an undemocratic superstate with mass unemployment, falling living standards, and growing inequality."

But Liberal Liberal Democrat MSP Alex-Cole Hamilton dismissed such arguments as a "doctrine of isolationism - pure and simple".

He said: "If we were to leave we would be a tiny archipelago of islands adrift in a sea of economic uncertainty. That is why the Liberal Democrat benches are so proudly, full-throatedly, backing the Remain campaign."

Professor Mona Siddiqui, chair of the Scotland Stronger In Europe Advisory Group, said afterwards: "It is encouraging to see MSPs in every party across the Scottish Parliament back staying in the European Union, and with such an overwhelming result.

"Our economy is stronger in the single European market, and we all benefit from EU social justice measures such as rights in the workplace and action to improve the environment. Remain is the positive choice, and by coming together as MSPs did, voters in Scotland could make the crucial difference in achieving a UK-wide vote to stay."