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Dominic Raab blasts Donald Tusk over 'un-European' comments on independence

PA

Dominic Raab blasts Donald Tusk over 'un-European' comments on independence

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has hit out at Donald Tusk over his supportive comments towards Scottish independence, branding them "un-European" and "irresponsible".

The former European Council President was seen to give a boost to Nicola Sturgeon's ambitions to obtain full EU membership for an independent Scotland as he claimed there was real "empathy" among EU leaders for the plan.

Speaking ahead of the Brexit deadline on Friday, the Scottish First Minister said there was a "real and profound sadness" among Scottish voters who had backed staying in the European Union by 62 per cent to 38 per cent in 2016.

The First Minister has repeatedly called on Boris Johnson to grant powers to the Scottish Parliament to allow a second referendum on independence in the wake of the Brexit vote, but has been rebuffed.

But speaking to the Andrew Marr programme on Sunday, Tusk said while he wanted to "respect the internal debate" in the UK, he felt "very Scottish, especially after Brexit".

He added: "Emotionally I have no doubt that everyone will be enthusiastic here in Brussels, and more generally in Europe.

"If you ask me about our emotions, you will witness I think always empathy."

That provoked outrage from Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab - who branded the intervention as "un-European".

"I think it was frankly un-European and rather irresponsible given the succession sepratist tendencies in Spain, in France, in Italy," the senior Tory told the programme.

"I'm not sure European leaders, let alone leaders here in the UK would actually welcome that kind of language."

The Foreign Secretary also hit out at suggestion the government were "looking the other way" on Scotland, branding Sturgeon's comments on a fresh independence ballot a "distraction".

"We want to make sure in the levelling up agenda, with the opportunities of Brexit, right across board, that Scotland has got the great opportunity to take advantage of all those benefits," he said.

"At the same time, we obviously expect the SNP to live up to its commitment to honour the outcome of the independence referendum and not to then keep coming back and asking for a second one."

He added: "A lot of this is a distraction from the standards in schools, in the high levels of taxes, that actually the job of the Scottish Government in discharging its responsbility to the Scottish people ought to be focussed on."

His comments come amid reports that Downing Street are preparing to launch a £5m advertising blitz to persuade Scottish voters of the benefits of remaining in the Union.

The year long campaign, reportedly set to launch around Valentine's Day, will see ads displayed in cinemas, as well as on TV, radio and digital platforms.

Read the most recent article written by John Johnston - Downing Street to launch new unit to tackle fake news on coronavirus

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