A Spanish diplomat who intervened in the Scottish independence debate to back the SNP's position on EU membership has been sacked by Madrid it has emerged.
Miguel Ángel Vecino had served as Spanish consul in Edinburgh and was thrust into the spotlight last week when it emerged he had penned a letter stating that Spain would not block an independent Scotland's membership of the EU.
But the intervention went too far for the Spanish Foreign Ministry which has relieved of his duties, according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Read more: Nicola Sturgeon accused of ‘playing to the gallery’ over Catalan visit
"The Consul General in Edinburgh, Mr. Vecino, does not exercise functions of political representation of Spain, which is why we consider that he has clearly exceeded his functions by directing the letter to said newspaper," The Foreign Ministry said in a statement to the newspaper.
"It is not up to [...] him to make this type of statements of a political nature."
It added: "For the reasons mentioned, we can confirm that Mr. Vecino has already been informed of his dismissal last Thursday. Cessation that will be effective in the next days once the corresponding procedures have been completed."
Read more: Lack of dialogue ‘could boost Scottish and Catalan independence campaigns’
Mr Vecino spoke out after Spanish MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons last month claimed Scotland would have to “get in line” to join the European Union. The MEP added that his centre-right Par ti do Po pular (PP) party would “veto an independent Scotland from directly entering the EU before Brexit”.
The position of the Spanish Government in relation to Scottish independence has long been contentious.
The country’ s previous prime minister, Maria no Ra joy, warned in the buildup to the 2014 in dependence referendum that a Yes vote risked Europe’s disinte - gration, with the close links between the growing Catalonian independence move and the SNP government in Scotland viewed as a major concern for Madrid.
It would only take one veto from Spain – or any of the 28 member states – to block an independent Scotland’s entry to the EU.