A second independence referendum will be held in Scotland if Nicola Sturgeon’s current round of Brexit talks with EU leaders fail, the party’s Westminster leader has said.
Angus Robertson insists the First Minister will explore all options to retain Scotland’s place in the EU, but another vote on leaving the UK is “exactly what we will do” if Ms Sturgeon’s hopes of securing a de facto membership of the bloc are dashed.
Mr Robertson also indicated that the SNP could ditch its widely criticised policy of sharing the UK pound after independence and says there are a “range of options” available on the currency
The Brexit vote has re-ignited the debate on Scottish independence after 62 per cent of Scots voted to remain in the EU, while the rest of the UK opted to leave. Opinion polls have since suggested a majority of Scots support leaving the UK in order to stay in the EU.
Ms Sturgeon has insisted that she is ready to “explore all options” to retain Scotland’s place in the EU and has embarked on a round of meetings with senior EU leaders with a view to achieving this.
“There’s process that is being gone through to try and understand what are our options to remain within the European Union,” Mr Robertson told Sky News today.
“It’s pretty obvious that there is a route to being able to stay in the European Union and that’s as a member state. That’s what everybody else does.
“We’re currently in and we want to remain in. We have absolutely no intention of leaving and harming business, harming our citizenship rights, discriminating against our neighbours who happen to be EU citizens and play such a valuable role in our society and our economy.
“We will do everything to try and protect our position and if that means that we will have second referendum in Scotland so that we are a sovereign state and able to remain in the EU that’s exactly what we will do.
“However, we need to go through a process of understanding the ways in which we can remain in the EU and if that is the only way at the end of the day, that is what we will do.”
Mr Robertson pointed to the recent comments of German vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel who said Scotland would be allowed to remain in the EU if it chooses.
“It’s just a question of the mechanics of how would one do that,” Mr Robertson added.
“But of course it would need the express democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to do that and that’s why the First Minister and the Scottish Government has embarked on this process.”
He added: “We here north of the border and indeed our friends in Northern Ireland also voted to Remain in the EU and in Scotland we have every intention of doing just that.”
Former Treasury Permanent secretary Sir Nicholas Macpherson, who clashed with Nationalists during the 2014 referendum, said last week that Brexit is a “golden opportunity” for Scottish independence, but warned the SNP would have to ditch its currency policy of sharing the UK pound
Mr Robertson insisted there are a “range of options on the table” which Scotland could adopt, including the country’s own currency, the so called Scottish pound, the euro or simply using the pound in the same way as Panama uses the dollar.
“The position has changed fundamentally,” he added.
“People who in 2014 didn’t see the advantages of Scotland being sovereign are now acknowledging that there are very significant opportunities in being able to able to safeguard our economic position within the EU.”