UK environment secretary Owen Paterson told MSPs today that an independent Scotland would lose the “clout” of the UK’s influence in European Union negotiations in key policy areas.
Mr Paterson stated that it was “absolutely clear” that being part of the UK had delivered key benefits to Scotland in funding for agriculture and fisheries.
SNP MSP Graeme Dey told Mr Paterson that an independent Scotland “would get a better deal as an independent nation in the EU” as the UK cabinet minister appeared before Holyrood’s environment committee today.
Nationalists MSPs criticised Mr Paterson for failing to deliver adequate funding for Scotland’s farmers, and claimed that independence would lead to a better deal for Scottish agriculture.
However, the Tory cabinet minister dismissed claims that an independent Scotland would deliver more benefits for farmers from Europe than are received as part of the UK.
Mr Paterson said: “That’s most unlikely sadly. Having the clout of the UK and its bargaining position in the EU is crucial.
“New nations do not get brought in immediately. It’s absolutely clear that being part of the UK has delivered a very large number of key Scottish requests. That was only delivered because of the UK’s clout.”