Guy Verhofstadt, who is the European Parliament’s chief negotiator on Brexit, was appearing before the Home Affairs committee in the House of Commons this afternoon when he was challenged by Scottish Conservative MP Douglas Ross on comments he had made on an independent Scotland joining the EU.
‘That is a fact’
Mr Ross asked: “In September 2016, you said: ‘If Scotland decides to leave the UK and become an independent state and they decide to be part of the EU, I think there is no big obstacle to do that’. Do you still support that?”
Mr Verhofstadt replied: “That is a fact. That’s a simple fact.”
The response by the former Belgian Prime Minister was in marked contrast to his reply when asked about the same quote earlier today at a different Commons committee.
At the Brexit committee this morning, Mr Verhofstadt was asked about the same comments on an independent Scotland by SNP MP Joanna Cherry and appeared to distance himself from them, asking: “Did I say that?”.
Mr Verhofstadt said that while he understood the SNP’s concerns over Scottish voters not backing Brexit, the country ‘was obliged to go with the majority’.
He then went on to tell the Brexit committee that he would not get involved in internal UK politics, something he also stressed to Mr Ross at the later appearance before the Home Affairs committee.
The SNP were delighted at the apparent change of tack from Mr Verhofstadt, with Home Affairs committee member Stuart McDonald tweeting: “Good to hear Guy Verhofstadt confirm at Home Affairs Committee that his earlier statement about there being no great obstacle to indy Scotland joining EU was simply ‘fact’”.