SNP MSP Alex Neil questions whether an independent Scotland should be a full member of the EU
EU flags - credit: Christian Lutz/AP/Press Association Images
SNP MSP Alex Neil has come out against an independent Scotland applying to become a full member of the European Union.
Writing for Holyrood, Neil warned that if Scotland became a full member of the EU, it would be “very difficult to achieve” an open border with the rest of the UK, which would make it “particularly difficult” for the Yes campaign to win majority support for independence.
The former cabinet secretary also argued against the idea that the UK’s vote for Brexit will shift large proportions of the Scottish population towards supporting independence.
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Neil writes: “It would prove particularly difficult to win majority support if there is any suggestion independence could lead to the creation of a “hard border” between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
“However if independence is defined as Scotland becoming a full member of the EU, keeping an open border with the rest of the UK is likely to be very difficult to achieve.
“We therefore need to look at alternative scenarios other than EU membership in terms of the independence offer. These alternatives will be defined within the context of the known consequences of Brexit.”
Nicola Sturgeon yesterday met German minister of state for Europe Michael Roth as part of talks focusing on the next steps for the EU, the UK and Scotland.
The First Minister has stated her intention to “protect Scotland’s place in the EU” while announcing plans to start legislating for a second referendum on Scottish independence, after Scotland voted to remain in the EU, but the UK as a whole opted for Brexit.
But Neil warned against holding a second independence referendum in the near future, arguing “we must not allow ourselves to be stampeded into holding a second referendum which is premature and unnecessarily risky”.
He said: “The idea that we could suddenly be swept to independence on the back of an emotional tidal wave of support resulting from the Brexit vote isn’t supported by the available evidence. Opinion polls are showing that the initial surge in support for independence in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum is already reverting to pre-EU referendum levels.
“We need a much more decisive and evident shift in support for independence over a sustained period of time before firing the starting gun for indyref2. Losing a second referendum would put independence on the back burner for generations. We must do all we can to avoid that happening.”