Saturday

18th Jan 2020

Scottish leader hits back at Spain on independence

Scottish leader Alex Salmond has played down Spain's claim that an independent Scotland would be kicked out of the EU.

The Scottish Nationalist government unveiled its plans for independence in the 670-page blueprint "Scotland's Future" earlier this week.

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  • Salmond says Scotland could negotiate its membership terms from within the EU

It believes Scotland would be able to renegotiate its status from within the EU.

The plan is to vote for secession from the UK in a September 2014 referendum, but to wait 18 months until the first day of independence in 2016, while using the interim to re-establish its EU membership.

The project suffered a blow on Wednesday (27 November) when Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy told press: "I know for sure that a region that would separate from a member state of the EU would remain outside the EU and that should be known by the Scots."

"I would like that the consequences of that secession be presented with realism to Scots," he noted.

He spoke alongside French President Francois Hollande, who did not contradict him.

He added, in thinly veiled criticism of Salmond, that "the times we live in demand strong countries, and unity is not contrary to autonomy, it is a guarantee of strength."

His remarks were also designed to put the frighteners on Catalonia.

The wealthy Spanish region is, like Scotland, planning to hold a referendum on independence next year.

But Rajoy's centre-right government and the opposition socialist party say the plan violates Spain's constitution.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso sent out a similar message a few months ago.

He said that any new country which split from an EU member state would "become a third country with respect to the EU" and would have to apply for membership.

Meanwhile, at a debate in the Scottish parliament on Thursday, the leader of the centre-left Labour party in Scotland, Johan Lamont, said Rajoy is being "straighter with Scots than the first minister [Salmond]."

Salmond hit back, saying the Union would welcome Scotland with open arms.

"Scotland is a European nation. Resource-rich Scotland would be welcome. Anybody with an ounce of sense knows that," he said.

He also cited a letter from the office of Catherine Day, the EU commission's secretary general, which, he said, made clear it will be "legally possible to renegotiate the situation of the UK and Scotland within the European Union."

Scottish secession would require a re-allocation of voting weights and parliamentary seats in the EU's two lawmaking bodies, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

It would also be entitled to an EU commissioner.

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