BREXITEERS are trying to “silence” the people who argued for remaining in the EU and pretending it is a “done deal”, according to the new president of a Scottish campaign group.

Former Labour MEP David Martin said while membership of the EU was unlikely in the foreseeable future, it was important to “never let that dream die”.

He warned there was a danger of people forgetting what being in the EU was like and that it was important to keep reminding Europe that Scotland did not want to leave.

Martin, who was the longest serving UK Member of the European Parliament until Brexit, has succeeded former SNP minister Michael Russell as president of the European Movement in Scotland (EMiS).

READ MORE: Culture workers to call for urgent action to repair Brexit damage

He told the Sunday National his involvement with Europe for 40 years was one of the motivations for taking on the role.

But he added: “A bit of it is reaction against the way that the pro-Brexiteers are now trying to silence the people who argued for Remain, pretending we should all just go away and hide in a corner now because it’s a done deal.

“I think we need to keep reminding people of the damage that has been done to our economy and to our general standing in the world as a result of Brexit.”

He added: “I think if I am honest, no matter which course of action you believe in getting to rejoin, that is off the agenda for a while.

“I think it is a bit naïve to think we’re going to be members in the foreseeable future.

“So what I want to try and help the European Movement to do is to focus in the short to medium term on measures that can bring us closer to the European Union and make eventual membership easier when the opportunity arises.”

The National:

Martin (above) said this could be done through trying to make the case for rejoining programmes such as Erasmus, as well as keeping up pressure by pointing out, for example, the difficulties that having different standards between the UK and Europe creates for industry.

He said: “It is great news that we have joined Horizon, we should look at joining the Erasmus programme, maybe look at ways of having a youth travel visa, and generally reforms of that nature that keep us close to Europe, short of membership.

“It will never be as good as membership but help keep us aligned with the whole European Union and then eventually making the case for rejoin.

“I think in the end it is the natural home for either Scotland or the UK and we should never let that dream die.”

In the latest issue to emerge with Brexit, controls due to come into effect at the end of January are expected to leave British consumers and businesses facing more than £500 million in costs, with potential shortages of food imported from the EU.

READ MORE: Brexit ‘falling apart’ says co-founder of EU star project

Martin said: “I think there have been efforts by sections of the right-wing media and the pro-Brexiteers and to some extent the UK Government to understate the damage that Brexit has done.

“It depends who you believe and what numbers you take, but you are talking about not millions, not a few billion – you are talking about hundreds of billions of pounds of loss to British industry as a result of Brexit.

"That’s not a figure you should dismiss lightly in terms of what that means for potential investment in health, education, roads, infrastructure and so on. That is a massive loss to the economy.”

He also pointed out there were issues such as people having to queue at airports to get into a European country, young people finding it more difficult to go to the EU and groups and artists facing having to get visas when they want to tour or exhibit abroad.

“All of these things are more than just niggles, it's difficulties we didn’t need and could have avoided,” he said.

“I think that is exactly one of things the European Movement has got to keep focusing on, is to ensure people remember how it was and it doesn’t become that’s how it is, you have to get a visa, you have to queue at passport control.

“We need to remind people that before Brexit you walked through passport control along with the rest of the European Union passport holders.”

Martin said although EMiS is an all-party organisation, it would be involved with the General Election campaign with plans to hold hustings and also highlight the “strengths and weaknesses” in each party’s position on Europe.

This year will also see the European Parliament elections take place – the first that the UK will not be part of.

Martin said it was important to keep campaigning as changes take place, with projections that more than half the parliament will be new and civil servants and commission officials retiring.

He added: “We need to keep reminding Europe that Scotland never wanted to leave in the first place, that we have an interest in being as close to Europe as possible.”