The EU Referendum got a lot closer in Westminster last week with debate in the Chamber on three out of four sitting days. In Scotland the political discourse is rightly focused on the crucial Holyrood elections but at Westminster there is a distinct sense that Europe is starting to dominate politics.

The EU Referendum is looking like a racing certainty for 23 June, just a few short weeks after the Scottish Parliament elections. That is plain wrong since it will interfere with the devolved and local elections taking place across the UK with the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland expressing their unhappiness.

Furthermore it leaves precious little time to debate our membership of the European Union. As someone who will argue passionately for remaining I think that the Prime Minister should have the courage of his convictions and give people the opportunity to put the arguments under proper scrutiny.

Polls published last week continue to suggest that Scots are overwhelming likely to vote to remain. However nothing can be taken for granted and more needs to be done to demonstrate the impact that EU membership has on us all rather than just the considerations around its impact on big business. That argument is valid and opening up markets and making trade easier is all very well but the EU is about so much more.

Rights for workers have often been strengthened by EU membership with the Union providing a better source of protection than Westminster Governments. The Working Time Directive is specifically designed to protect rights in the work place. It puts a limit on hours that can be worked and how the length of breaks as well as making specific provision for night-time working.

I have also been disappointed by much of the debate around immigration. Many Scots and other UK citizens benefit from Freedom of Movement and enjoy the protection that the EU brings to them in their places of work. So why shouldn’t EU citizens enjoy the same benefits when they are working here. While we are at it let’s have an honest debate about immigration, it is good for the country bringing a richness to our economy and society. UK citizens benefit from Freedom of Movement just as EU citizens do here.

On education the Erasmus programme provides funding and opportunities for students to spend time studying or in work placement programmes in other European countries. This makes these opportunities more affordable and open regardless of how wealthy your parents happen to be. I spent a year as an Erasmus student in Antwerp with funds provided by the EU. That enriched my educational experience and made my experiences more attractive to potential employers.

More broadly there are benefits to key policy areas. Scotland has the best renewables resource and some of the best expertise in Europe. Yet as the UK rushes headlong into spending billions on French and Chinese nuclear technologies it is Europe that provides a market for Scotland’s renewables and a friendlier policy making source than Westminster. Greater cooperation on energy could provide the Scottish industry with the boost it needs at a time when Westminster is doing all it can to damage the clean green energy industry.

On broader climate change policy, the Scottish Government has been leading the way in recent times with very little leadership being shown by the UK Government. Brussels has provided a helpful ally in efforts to tackle climate change and pan-European action is critically important. More could be done but there is certainly more commitment from the EU than an increasingly sceptical Westminster Government.

Finally we need an honest debate. Many of the criticisms thrown at the EU have very little to do with it and plenty to do with the Member State. Remember it was not the EU that described Scotland’s fishermen as ‘expendable’ and it was not the EU who placed the climate change levy on renewables. I am similarly astonished at those who think being a Member State and being part of the UK Union are one and the same. The EU could not impose Trident or the Poll Tax on the UK against its will or take us into illegal wars.

The EU is not perfect and frankly the Prime Minister’s re-negotiation has been a huge missed opportunity.

However the question is not about the Prime Minister’s renegotiation but rather the broader question of membership. I think a proper debate on membership will lead to a vote to remain.

Alex Salmond called the Independence Referendum 545 days before 18 September. I am not sure many of us could stomach that on Europe, but surely another summer of debate on an issue that affects us all would do no harm.

Stephen Gethins is a member of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee