Independent Scotland would be ‘most welcome’ to be full member of EU, say MEPs

Open letter signed by Green MEPs plus other politicians around Europe

Rachael Revesz
Monday 10 April 2017 10:44 BST
Ms Sturgeon has just finished a week-long tour of the US and vowed not to pursue legal action for a second referendum
Ms Sturgeon has just finished a week-long tour of the US and vowed not to pursue legal action for a second referendum (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Scotland would be “most welcome“ to join the EU if it voted for independence, according to a group of 50 politicians.

The open letter, signed by 26 MEPs and members of national and regional parliaments in Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain and Belgium, declared that there was a “tremendous amount of goodwill from across the continent towards Scotland’s European aspirations”.

The letter was mostly signed by Green MEPs, the same party that supported Scotland’s first bid for independence in 2014. The group lamented UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s push for a hard Brexit and acknowledged that Scotland, as a whole, had voted to remain.

“Therefore, if Scotland were to become an independent country and decided to seek to maintain European Union membership, we offer our full support to ensure the transition is as swift, smooth, and orderly as possible,” the letter, addressed to Scottish parliament, read.

It added: “Scotland would be most welcome as a full member of the European Union, with your five million European citizens continuing to benefit from the rights and protections we all currently enjoy.”

The letter may be a boost for Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon whose predecessor Alex Salmond lost the Scottish National Party’s first bid for independence in 2014 as many politicians threatened the country would lose EU membership as a result.

Nicola Sturgeon letter launches independence battle

Ms Sturgeon has proposed another referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, when the terms of the UK’s exit deal from the EU are unknown.

This month Spain said it would not veto a potentially independent Scotland from rejoining the EU, as was previously reported.

Ross Greer MSP, the Scottish Greens’ external affairs spokesperson, said in a statement that independence was “the only way to secure a European future for Scotland”.

“The only thing standing in Scotland’s way to forging links with Europe is the Westminster government,” he said.

“Our parliament has voted to give the people a choice over their own future and no Tory government at Westminster should stand in the way of that.”

Nicola Sturgeon: No campaigners 'jeopardised' Scotland's place in the EU

The SNP has not pledged a vote for independence as a guarantee to return to Brussels, however. The letter would not guarantee that Scotland could re-enter the EU.

Ms Sturgeon recently told Channel 4 News that she wrote to Ms May, formally asking to start talks on a second referendum.

“I don’t take for granted what choice people in Scotland would make and I respect the views of those who would not choose independence, but the simple principle is this: in very changed circumstances that will have significant implications for the kind of country we will become, our future should be decided by us, not for us,” Ms Sturgeon said.

Ms May responded that “now is not the time” for such a vote.

Ms Sturgeon added last week she had no intention of taking legal action to secure a second referendum - it was a matter that should be decided outside of court.

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