The SNP’s behaviour over the question of an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union is fast becoming an embarrassment to this country.
First we learn that, in spite of its assurances to the contrary, the Scottish Government holds no substantial legal advice to back up its uniquely held view that Scotland would retain automatic membership of the EU in the event of independence.
Now we have clear confirmation from Jose Manuel Barroso, the most senior figure in the European Commission, that Scotland would have to apply for membership via a process of negotiation like any other accession state (your report, 11 December).
Yet even as Mr Barroso finally confirmed what most already knew, SNP ministers were sticking grimly to a position that is theirs and theirs alone: that Scotland would be a successor state, allowed to negotiate entry to the EU while remaining a member, all the while enjoying the UK’s hard-won privileges and derogations.
Why then is Nicola Sturgeon now seeking urgent talks with the commission to check whether its own president is telling the truth or not? Clearly the SNP would like us to think that Mr Barroso is either wrong or misguided.
Yet even as it calls his words – or his integrity – into question, the SNP gets on bended knee in the vain hope that Mr Barroso’s own officials might present it with a more politically palatable solution that fits the Nationalists’ own peculiar referendum narrative.
If this reflects the manner in which a future SNP government plans to lead an independent Scotland into crucial diplomatic talks with its friends and neighbours, then I shudder to think how it would treat its enemies.
I have never witnessed such a foolish or inept attempt at deal-making in Europe.
Conservative MEP for Scotland
My mother and grandmother had a common characteristic: if they were made to feel unwelcome, or snubbed, each would put her nose in the air, say, “I know when I’m not wanted,” and leave.
What is it about those six simple words that the Dear Leader and his deputy cannot understand?
Several EU leaders – elected to speak for their peoples – have made it plain that an independent Scotland starts from outside the EU, not inside, despite the SNP’s wishful thinking… and some national politicians of EU countries have indicated that they will ensure that that is where we’ll stay. So what?
The question we face is not whether we want to be in the EU, but whether we in Scotland wish to be separate from the United Kingdom.
If we start putting conditions on independence (only if we can stay in the EU; only if we can keep the Windsors; only if we adopt sterling, and Westminster rules on our border controls; only if we can shelter under the Nato nuclear umbrella) we will be arguing from now to the end of the world.
There is only one question: independence – yes, or no. The rest will follow, if they have to, in all good time.
Suppose the former Czechoslovakia had been a member of the European Union – would Jose Manuel Barroso kindly tell us which of the two new states formed as a consequence of its dissolution would have had to apply for membership of the EU?
The answer is patently obvious: both new states would have been regarded as successor states under the Vienna Convention, and as such their entitlement to EU membership and other treaty obligations would have been unquestioned.
What is crystal clear from Mr Barosso’s letter to Lord Tugendhat, and from his television interview, is that he is woefully ignorant of the constitution of the United Kingdom and fails to appreciate the difference between a part of a member state seceding from the member state – for instance Catalonia seceding from Spain – and the dissolution of a member state into its constituent parts, as per Czechoslovakia.
The indisputable fact is that following the granting of independence to Scotland the former member state, the United Kingdom, will no longer exist.
There will then be two new states: England and Wales with Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Mr Barroso needs to explain why one of the new states should be treated differently from the other.
It has been a Unionist mantra for decades that Scotland is an equal partner within the UK, so to embrace the argument that England should be the member state and Scotland excluded simply betrays an anti-Scottish agenda.
(REV) ARCHIE BLACK
Peter Jones (Perspective, 11 December) points out the obvious fact that basing a country’s future prosperity on something as volatile as the oil price is not very wise. You don’t need to be an economist to see this – it is common sense. The SNP received a bad blow from the EU in pointing out that entry to it is not automatic -– things are not going well for the Nationalists.
Bo’ness, West Lothian
The endless exchanges of claims and counter-claims regarding Scotland in Europe are beginning to resemble an Irving Berlin number: “No you can’t – Yes I can – No you can’t – Yes I can – No you can’t – Yes I can, yes I CAAAAAN!”
That the component parts of what used to be the UK will have to negotiate their places in the European community is, and always has been, obvious; that Europe will instantly and irrevocably close its doors to the future independent Scotland is, and always has been, absurd.
The No campaign’s attempt to use Mr Barroso’s statement as an argument against Scottish independence is simply based, like the entire campaign, on the assumption that the Scots are only fit to be dictated to by others, be they the English, the Americans, the Spanish or Mr Barroso.
That assumption is wrong. We can determine our own place in Europe and the world; and will.
Has the SNP government’s bluff over automatic EU membership at last been called? If not, then Jose Manuel Barroso is clearly incompetent in stating that a fresh application for EU membership will have to made by a newly independent Scotland.
In the latter case, where will “independent” Scotland obtain the necessary finance to see the country through the lengthy and tortuous application process? It certainly won’t come from Westminster.
After the SNP has gone to court to protect the sanctity of the legal advice sought over EU membership, one can’t help feeling it’s another case of the truth being hidden from the Scottish public.