Statement expected on June 24 from first minister to highlight the way ahead
THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT has been instructed to prepare to “protect” Scotland’s relationships with the European Union, in the event the country faces removal from the European Union against the will of the people.
Comments attributed to a spokesperson for the first minister, reported by The Times newspaper, stated that Scotland would seek “political and diplomatic” routes to keep the country in the EU.
Ex-first minister Alex Salmond has also called for direct negotiations between the Scottish Government and Brussels.
“I would expect the Scottish parliament to move quickly and, with the mandate given to it by the Scottish people, to negotiate its position within the EU and the single market which is vital for jobs and prosperity,” he told the newspaper.
In parliament First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it would be her responsibility to “protect” Scotland’s relationships with the European Union if the UK votes to leave, in the result set to be announced on Friday June 24 next week.
Queen Mary University of London academic Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott has said that Scotland could remain part of the EU with the rest of the UK outside
Although Scotland is expected to return a vote in favour of EU membership, the last four EU polls have a shown a majority in the rest of the UK in favour of leaving the multi-national organisation.
Sturgeon, answering questions in the Scottish Parliament, said: “As first minister, my duty is to seek to protect Scotland’s interests in all circumstances and, therefore, I am ensuring that appropriate planning for all eventualities is being undertaken by the Scottish Government.
“Let me also say — I have said this many times before — that, if Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the European Union against our democratically expressed will, all options to protect our relationship with Europe and the European Union will require to be considered.”
Sturgeon faced calls yesterday [Thursday 16 June] from ex-SNP leader Gordon Wilson to request negotiations with the European Union on the issues of Scottish independence and national representation.
Queen Mary University of London academic Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott has said that Scotland could remain part of the EU with the rest of the UK outside – on the model adopted by Greenland (which is part of Denmark, but outside the EU while Denmark remains a member). `
However, any prospect of such discussions is based on Scotland returning a strong vote to Remain – which has recently dropped to just over 60 per cent public support.
A vote to Leave the EU would place the Scottish Government in an uncertain legal position – as Westminster would have all legal responsibility to conduct any negotiations.
SNP candidate and Yes Scotland organiser Toni Giugliano has warned that Scotland would have “no say whatsoever” in any Brexit talks.
Supporters of Brexit claim Scotland would benefit from devolving powers currently exercised at an EU level to Holyrood. However, there has been no confirmation from any UK organisation that this would take place.
Sturgeon would also be faced with a difficult decision – not only on how to approach UK and EU officials in the event of Brexit – but also domestically on whether to move towards a second referendum on independence.
Post-referendum timeline in Scotland:
23 June: UK votes on EU membership
24 June: Result announced. Government statements.
2 July: Elizabeth Windsor opens Scottish Parliament
4 July: Scottish Parliament planned to begin Summer recess
Picture courtesy of First Minister of Scotland
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