Alex Salmond today faced claims he has “misled” voters over the prospect of an independent Scotland finding itself frozen out of Europe after independence.
Tory leader Ruth Davidson said Holyrood officials had received a letter from the EC last month which revealed that its position on an independent Scotland’s EU membership had not changed since that set out by EC President Juan Manuel Barroso last year.
In a letter to the Lords last December, he stated that if Scotland become independent, the EU treaties would no longer apply. And a letter to Holyrood officials, from Jen Nymand Christensen, Director SG, at the European Parliament said the position in Brussels “remains the same”, Ms Davidson told MSPs at First Ministers Questions today.
Ms Davidson the original letter is clear, adding: “It is unambiguous - an independent Scotland would have to negotiate entry to the European Union from the outside.
“The opt-outs that we currently have from the euro, from Schengen would be voided, our budget rebate would no longer apply.”
“We have a First Minister who misled the people of Scotland once telling them he had specific legal advice on Europe when none existed.
He misled them a second time by telling them a letter he had Googled was the final word on European entry.
“And it turns out he misled them a third time because an official position on EU entry had been given to this Parliament and instead of detailing its contents, he used the internet letter instead.
“He is the Pinocchio of Scottish politics.”
The Tory leader was forced to apologise at this stage for unparliamentary language.
But Mr Salmond said the letter he read out last month from EC official Mario Tenreiro, which first appeared on a pro-independence website, was “genuine and read out in good faith.”
He added that the EC has said it would comment on a precise legal scenario but only the member state, in this case the UK, can request this.
But he said: “The United Kingdom Government have refused repeatedly to go to the European Commission with that precise legal scenario, despite the offer of the Scottish Government to do so.”
He said Scotland has been in the EU for 40 years and is not in the same position as a new state wanting to join up.
He branded it an “incredible suggestion that resource rich, people rich, fish rich Scoland would not be welcomed in the European Union.”
• Subscribe to The Scotsman Apple and Android tablet apps
Our apps offer the latest news throughout the day as well as complete electronic copies of the newspaper.
They feature full articles, videos and picture galleries plus the ability to browse through complete downloadable editions of the paper which can also be read offline later.
Print subscribers of The Scotsman are entitled to any version of the app to suit their device as part of their subscription.
Alternatively readers can subscribe to the app through the app stores, and will get 30 days free access.