Charles Kennedy's wisdom greatly missed from EU debate, says Nicola Sturgeon


Scotland's First Minister will pay tribute to Charles Kennedy's "wisdom" on European Union membership in the annual memorial lecture for the former Liberal Democrat leader.

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to say Mr Kennedy's contribution to the debate on the EU referendum and Brexit has been "greatly missed".

She will deliver the second annual Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture in Lochaber High School in Fort William on Friday evening.

Lord Wallace gave the inaugural lecture last November, five months after the former MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber died at the age of 55.

Ms Sturgeon is expected to say: "Charles was an ardent supporter of the European Union. He once described himself as a Highlander first, Scottish second, British third, and European fourth. However he was proud of, and comfortable with, all of those identities. In fact, he served as president of the European Movement from 2004 until his death.

"I can't be the only person during the last year who has thought about the contribution Charles could have made to the UK-wide discussions on EU membership. His sense, good humour and wisdom have been greatly missed in that debate."

She will continue: "In his maiden speech to the House of Commons, Charles talked about the lack of opportunities that young people at that time faced - in Lochaber and across these islands.

"He went on to argue that a loss of opportunities has economic, social and political consequences.

"Versions of that argument have been heard a great deal in recent months about voters of all ages, not simply about young people.

"They have often been made in relation to Brexit, and indeed last week's US elections.

"Unless parliaments and governments work for every individual in society, disillusionment in politics and in society will grow.

"I believe Scotland, and Lochaber, is in a better place now than in 1983. I believe that devolution has helped, as Charles predicted it would."