A senior Conservative MSP has revealed he will back a Brexit if David Cameron does not change “the direction of travel” on the EU.
Alex Johnstone, who will become the sole Tory to have been at Holyrood since 1999 if re-elected next May, told The Courier the current set-up from Brussels “no longer serves Britain’s interests”.
Speaking just days after his Scottish leader Ruth Davidson outlined her unequivocal support for remaining in the Union, Mr Johnstone said his ideal scenario was being able to back a reformed Europe following negotiations currently being carried out by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The North East Scotland representative said: “We need the EU to work for us again, something it hasn’t done for some time.
“What I need is a change in the direction of travel. We need to get back to creating opportunities, creating markets, liberalising trade, giving people freedoms, rather than the centralising there seems to be at the moment.
“I think David Cameron can achieve that. I want to see Britain being a member of a better Europe. If we can’t achieve change to take us in a different direction then Britain would be better off out.”
Mr Johnstone said the EU showing a willingness to change the culture of how it works was more important than the number of concessions given to the UK during negotiations.
During last week’s Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Ms Davidson confirmed she would back staying in Europe whatever the outcome of the negotiations.
She said her decision had been reached “on balance” after weighing up the pros and cons and vowed not to shift her position even if it leads to “conflict” with the Prime Minister, who has failed to confirm a position.
The issue has threatened to tear the Tories apart in England, with splits between hardline Europhobes and those who want the Union to continue.
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said there would be a free vote among MSPs on the issue.