SNP assumption over Scotland’s EU membership ‘quite fanciful’ - Michael Moore

Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore. Picture: Jane Barlow
Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore. Picture: Jane Barlow
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THE SNP administration is being “quite fanciful” about the unknowns surrounding EU membership of an independent Scotland, the Scotland Secretary said today.

At Scotland Questions, MPs suggested an independent Scotland could not guarantee membership of the European Union and might need to join the euro as an accession country.

The questions followed yesterday’s publication of a briefing paper for MPs which said there was “no clear answer” about what would happen with Scotland’s EU membership if it became independent - because it has never happened before.

And Michael Moore told MPs: “The idea that the SNP is taking for granted that Scotland would enter into the European Union without negotiation and consideration of the EU issues is entirely fanciful.

“We need to get these issues sorted out. The uncertainty needs to be resolved sooner rather than later.”

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell (North East Fife) said: “Do you agree it would help to resolve the uncertainty if the Scottish Government would publish the legal advice it has received on this point so it could contribute properly to the debate?”

Mr Moore replied: “That’s a very important point. The idea we would simply get membership of the European Union without discussion of an agreement and without needing to worry about the terms is quite fanciful. It’s a journey into the unknown and we need to have the detail.”

It comes as Labour released a letter from External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop in which she refuses to discuss the Scottish Government’s legal advice.

Ms Hyslop wrote: “We consider that to reveal whether or not the information you have requested exists, or is held by the Scottish Government, would be contrary to the public interest.”

But a spokesman for First Minister Alex Salmond said the position is “crystal clear”.

The spokesman added: “Scotland is already an integral part of the EU - and as an independent state will be in exactly the same position as the rest of the UK as a successor state.

“Legal, constitutional and European experts have all confirmed that an independent Scotland would continue in EU membership.

“And how could it be otherwise, when Scotland has the lion’s share of the EU’s energy reserves, including oil and renewables?

“The fact is that the last major EU expansion in 2004 saw 10 new countries join - six of them smaller than Scotland, and six of which have become independent since 1990.

“Scotland would not be a new part of the EU and the issue of the euro would be decided by a referendum of the people of Scotland, and only when the economic circumstances were right - until such a point, an independent Scotland will retain sterling as at present.”