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by Louise Wilson
28 January 2023
Independent Scotland would re-join EU without referendum – Angus Robertson

Angus Robertson said indyref2 would be a vote between an independent Scotland in the EU or staying in the Union | Photo: Anna Moffat

Independent Scotland would re-join EU without referendum – Angus Robertson

A vote for Scottish independence would automatically be a vote to rejoin the European Union, Scotland’s constitution secretary has said.

Angus Robertson, in an exclusive interview with Holyrood, said there would be no need for a separate referendum, post-independence, on whether the apply to join the EU because the choice put to the electorate would be between independence within the EU or staying in the UK.

A Scottish Government paper, published as part of its independence prospectus in October, proposed that Scotland would re-join the EU – but it did not explicitly say it would do so without holding a further vote.

A separate and more detailed paper on EU membership will be published by the government as part of this series.

In 2016, Scotland backed Remain by 62 to 39 per cent, with every local authority area voting to stay. The UK-wide result was 52 to 48 in favour of Leave.

Robertson said: “Scotland, 50 years on from having joined the then European Economic Community, has now endured two years of being outside the European Union, to the disbenefit of our public sector, our private sector, and our relations with our European neighbours and friends.

“I think it makes Scotland’s choice very clear, which is it is either as an independent, sovereign European Union member state with the restoration of all of the rights of citizenship that go with the right to live, work, study, trade, and much else besides, to restore that and to work with our friends elsewhere on these islands as equals, or signing up to a Brexit Britain led by the Tories, or with a now pro-Brexit Labour Party.”

Asked specifically whether there would need to be a referendum to rejoin the EU, he said: “No, the referendum case will be for Scottish independence within the European Union as a member state.”

The area Robertson used to represent at Westminster, Moray, had the highest level of Leave support in Scotland with 49.9 per cent of the electorate backing Brexit.

There are still questions around how quickly it would take an independent Scotland to join the EU, with one expert estimating it could take five years.

Whether Scotland would be required to accept the Euro and cross-border issues between England and Scotland would also need to be resolved.

Consistent polling since the 2016 referendum found Scottish support for joining the EU remains high. However, support for independence versus staying in the Union remains in a dead heat.

Asked whether the fact Brexit has not shifted the dial on support for independence had surprised him, Robertson said “no”.

He added: “When it’s clear that a referendum is happening, I think people who are having to deal with a lot of things in their daily lives will think anew about where are we now compared to where we were in the run up to 2014.”

The cabinet secretary also said that he found the 2016 result “massively disappointing” and that he had “never seen it as an opportunity” to boost support for independence. He said: “I think Brexit is so counterproductive and impoverishing in so many ways that I wouldn’t wish it on anybody to further any political agenda.”

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