Scottish independence: Holyrood clashes over EU

THE Scottish Government has come under attack from opposition parties for taking an “inconsistent” position regarding EU membership and Scottish independence.

Scottish Government and opposition MSPs clashed over European Union membership for an independent Scotland. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The SNP administration wants to negotiate the “specific terms” of an independent Scotland’s membership from within the EU, in the event of a Yes vote in September’s referendum.

During a Holyrood debate on Scotland’s future in Europe, Labour’s Patricia Ferguson questioned the viability of this proposal, while Tory MSP Annabel Goldie described it as “paradoxical and completely unacceptable”.

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Ms Ferguson said: “I have always found it slightly odd that the SNP do not want to pool sovereignty with the rest of the UK, where we have about 9.5% of the MPs, but is happy to do so with the other member states of the EU, where we would have less than 2% of MEPs.”

Scottish Government and opposition MSPs clashed over European Union membership for an independent Scotland. Picture: Ian Georgeson

She continued: “What the SNP wants is to tell the other 28 members of the EU the mechanism that should be employed to facilitate our membership, dictate the terms in which we join, which will be more favourable than those that many of the existing countries we expect to agree actually have, and all of that should be concluded in 16 months, because that’s what would suit Mr Salmond best.

“Now to me, that’s hardly a good starting point for negotiation.”

Conservatives

Ms Goldie said the Tories had proposed a “sensible and desirable” referendum on EU membership.

“But if Scotland is independent, we are to be given no say at all on what terms and conditions Alex Salmond has signed us up to,” she said.

“And that seems to me in relation to Mr Salmond, completely inconsistent. It is also paradoxical and completely unacceptable.”

Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson said today Scots should be given a referendum on membership of the European Union if the country votes Yes to independence.

Commenting on his views, Ms Goldie said: “I can see the logic of that. I am surprised that his logic doesn’t extend to the current leadership on the SNP.”

Government response

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “The reality is that it is in everyone’s interests, throughout the whole of the EU, for Scotland and its citizens to remain a part of the EU.

“An independent Scotland would continue her membership and become the 29th member negotiating the specific terms of our continued membership from within the EU.

“Direct representation in the EU will protect Scotland’s economic and social interests against the uncertainties and adverse consequences of the Prime Minister’s proposed in/out referendum on Europe, which raises the risk that the UK may exit the EU, with potentially significant adverse consequences for jobs, investment and prosperity.

“If Scotland remains under the rule of a Westminster system which withdraws from the EU, our influence in the world would be severely diminished.”