European leaders have undergone a “total inversion” in their attitude to Scotland after the Brexit vote which is likely to secure the country’s relations with the EU, according to SNP deputy leadership hopeful Alyn Smith.
The MEP launched his campaign in Edinburgh today and said Scotland could be the EU’s “good news story” to lift the post-Brexit gloom, with Brussels chiefs ready to “find solutions” to secure a role for Scotland in the bloc.
This could be as an independent nation or through a “status” arrangement akin to other territories.
Mr Smith has been appointed to a new standing council by Nicola Sturgeon to resolve Scotland’s EU status after Scots voted 62% to 38% in favour of remaining in the EU, while votes south of the border swung the result for Leave in the recent EU referendum.
“In 2014 there was a number of people in Brussels who didn’t quite get the `why’ of independence,” Mr Smith said.
“Well they ‘ken noo. There has been an almost total inversion of attitudes to Scotland. There is a recognition that we voted to remain.
“There’s a recognition that we want something different, whatever that something different is remains to be seen, but Brussels is good at this sort of stuff. There are ways that can be found. That will come down to political goodwill which I believe absolutely firmly exists in spades for us, also recognising the complexity of the UK in terms of finding solutions for other places too, particularly the Northern Ireland question.”
He added: “So there’s an awareness and a willingness in Brussels to find solutions to where we are. That will depend on the ongoing discussions, the ongoing interactions, the ongoing representation of Scotland within those discussions. But absolutely, there has been a step shift in how Scotland has been perceived.
“And don’t underestimate the role that Scotland plays in this. At a time when the EU really needs a good news story, we could be it.”
Mr Smith says he is ready to undertake a round of shuttle diplomacy of other EU states to argue Scotland’s case. And while independence is on the table, Mr Smith has been looking at other territories which have “status.”
He added: “I’m not talking about membership I’m talking about status, because if you’re talking about membership you have a discussion there. If you’re talking about status, it’s a much wider, hazier concept for where we are right now.”
Mr Smith cited the status of territories like the Isle of Man and Gibraltar in relation to the UK, as well as the Azores, Greenland and the Faroes in relation to the UK.
“There are other relations we could be looking at within that, but our starting point is that Scotland voted to remain. Scotland has chosen something else, we expect something different out of this.”
Mr Smith is up against SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, MP Tommy Sheppard and councillor Christopher McEleny for the deputy leadership role.