Scotland & the EU

EU just put Westminster between a rock and a very hard place over Scotland

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 09.47.22The question of Scotland’s ability to remain in the EU has been getting clearer and clearer. Although Unionist newspapers claim it is a blow that Spain doesn’t want Scotland as part of the EU to negotiate outwith the UK’s official channels, it actually makes independence more likely.

Scotland’s EU membership is a special case as part of the UK, which upon Brexit can leave an independent Scotland in the EU.  The option for Scotland to remain within the EU and still be part of the UK seems far too complex, but the Scottish FM has a duty to explore the option given the result of the 2014 independence vote.

Now however, the answer to the “separate negotiations” and “leave / rejoin” conundrums have started to emerge and its not good news for Westminster.

Margaritas Schinas, European Commission spokesperson has said said that the Commission respected the results in Scotland re Britain’s referendum, where a majority of voters supported to remain part of the Union.  Schinas also said that Scotland’s bid to remain in the EU “is an issue that pertains to the constitutional order of the United Kingdom and will have to be dealt with this context”.  EU officials later clarified that a deal could be done but only if London and Edinburgh agreed it between themselves first.

In other words, an independent Scotland could be part of the EU after Brexit without re-applying for membership if London and Edinburgh were to agree, EU officials have said.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 10.17.59

Dr Kirsty Hughes, former senior political adviser in the European Commission

Separately giving evidence the Scottish parliament Dr Kirsty Hughes, former senior political adviser in the European Commission and an Associate Fellow at Friends of Europe think tank, said she had been told “off the record” that discussions were taking place in the EU over placing Scotland in a “transitional holding pen” after the UK leaves the bloc, thus preventing Scotland from having to go through the process of leaving and re-applying should the public back independence.  She also stated that independence would be the “simplest and most obvious way” to maintain Scotland’s place EU membership following last week’s Brexit vote.

This puts the Westminster government between a rock and a hard place if they simply say that independence and separate negotiations are off the table then the Union is dead – they can’t stand in the way of exploring all options when there is a majority in the Scottish Parliament that would vote to allow it, possibly only the Tories would vote against and Lib Dems and Labour abstain.

If however, they allow separate negotiation and a holding pen option and security of membership is confirmed by the EU, meaning that there is no way to maintain Scotland’s place in the EU without independence there will be a second referendum and most likely an overwhelming Yes vote within a year.

There are problems to sort out and policies to rewrite and refine and a lot of negotiations, and there is no answer that won’t involve some change and disruption but compared to the total omnishambles that Westminster governance has become a Yes vote with an EU deal already done at least in outline would bring stability, economic confidence and certainty that Westminster won’t be able to match for maybe for a decade.


See Also 

Secret talks taking place to keep independent Scotland in EU, Brussels insider claims | Commission says Scotland’s EU future is up to UK


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About the author

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the Founder and Chief Executive of Business for Scotland. Before becoming CEO of Business for Scotland Gordon ran a business strategy and social media, sales & marketing consultancy.

With a degree in business, marketing and economics, Gordon has worked as an economic development planning professional, and in marketing roles specialising in pricing modelling and promotional evaluation for global companies (including P&G).

Gordon benefits (not suffers) from dyslexia, and is a proponent of the emerging New Economics School. Gordon contributes articles to Business for Scotland, The National and Believe in Scotland.


  • All that is needed is for the uk government to give the Scottish government devolved powers over immigration.this will enable Scotland to accept freedom of movement for eu citizens.job done.

  • The option of U.D.I. should also be included in the options that are available to the Scottish people and Government.
    Politically it is important to be there as a final option .

    This is about the only thing that Thatcher said that I agree with, the majority of MPs plus one entitles UDI.

  • There has to be big demands in northern Ireland for clarity but we are hearing nothing on MSM as to what they want. nor are they getting any MSM platform to debate the subject. if this is not brought out into the open I feel it is only stacking up great troubles to come.

  • So many words but at the end of the day no democracy. So what do you do when Scottish votes are disregarded like something you’d wipe off your shoe.

  • As an English immigrant, I have to say I love living in Scotland. Rarely encounter anti- English sentiment, people welcoming, and policially engaged. Strongly pro-Europe, however if goes Independent will face tough few years. I have no regrets, but I do miss the Summertime down South.

    • Welcome to your adopted country jas We can always do a deal Water for the sunshine I’m sure if you can negotiate that you will be the next leader of the SNP . Ps my stepdad was from England and all for Scottish independence.

  • Rather than the UK leaving and Scotland then getting Indy and rewriting all the treaties with Scotland instead of England….. Why don’t we just kick Wgland out of the U.K. Then they could be out of Europe and we could stay in without changing all the paperwork.

  • I have a question.

    Let’s suppose that Brexit happens, then Scotland votes to be independent as a result. Presumably there will be a significant southward movement of Unionist types relocating to Carlisle and Hexham.

    I’m English, living in Bristol, and keen on being a European. Can I come and live with you guys? I’m a good citizen, hardworking, honest, always recycle, etc etc. I’d be very well behaved.

    Otherwise I’d be stuck in the UK with no EU regulation on workers’ rights and the environment and no Scottish votes to dilute the small towns and the Home Counties. It would be Tory hell for ever and ever.

    • I dont actually think many if any would leave, as Scotland will be on its way to being a better nation and the sense of excitement will be all prevailing.

      Scotland’s national movement is open and welcoming based on anyone who commits to joining us being part of our nation regardless of religion creed colour or place of birth – I am from Hexham myself:-)

    • I am sure you will be very welcome, and we will not miss the Unionists who leave.

    • Course ye can. We don’t hate england or the English , just Westminster’s treatment of Scotland.

    • Jon we have no problem with migrants, we are European, it’s not them and us in Scotland never has been and very unlike the unionist nonsense you’ve heard we don’t hate the English how could we hate our families ? We’ve lived together and integrated for over 300 years, it’s Westminster we have a problem with and will until they no longer occupy us and give us our freedom as the last country to leave their deluded dead empire

      • We love the Scottish ppl and your always be part of are family as you said it’s Westminster you got a problem with well so have we got a problem with them I come from Liverpool I don’t think they like us

    • No free rides mind, you would be expected to make your own bed and take a turn at putting the buckets out! if your prepared to do your bit then your MORE THAN WELCOME!

    • Why wait Jon? Come up now. You’re most welcome. In fact, bring as many likeminded folk up with you as you can possibly muster.
      You’ll be pleasantly surprised that we bare no resemblance to the dystopian nationalist backwater the Daily Mail would have you believe.

    • You will be made very welcome. Nicola said she wants an inclusive Scotland and we need people like you here. ☺

    • Come on up! The weather is cold but the people are warm. I’m from the US and everything that is happening here AND back home is terrifying. That being said, I’m happily married and settled here in Scotland and don’t intend to leave. Alba I love you!

    • Why wait Jon? Move up, we’ll make you welcome and you’ll get to vote for Independence.

  • i read this article fully, and i think it is extremely foolish, and “ostrich like” to conclude the orange and red tories would abstain, in a holyrood vote for indy, THEY ARE UNIONISTS!!! SIMPLE!!!!!!!

  • Scotland is a Sovereign Nation. It’s Revenues keep Westminster in the Money. Also Trident is 25 miles from its biggest City. When we had the Indyref 1. The Union partys came up to Scotland and promised the Vow. The No Voters fell for it. Then it never happened. Then EVEL came in within a week of the No Vote. The way the Union is set up. It is Unfair to Scotland . The people of Scotland are Awake to what is going on. They don’t buy Newspapers anymore. They are on line sharing everything. The last Vote SNP Won by 159.985 votes. Yet the Tory Ruth Davison was all over the News and Media. The List Vote was set up by the Labour Party to make sure SNP would never get in. SNP have been the Holyrood Parliament for 9 years Now. With the Highest Membership. .the people and our Youth see the way the SNP MPs are treated in Westminster. It all adds to the SNP Indyref 2. We will win it this time. No more Vote Rigging. Or Vows. We see through it all. Tic Toc. … Independence is on its way. Saor Alba.

  • I have just listened to The Bottom Line on BBC and listened to 4 business commentators including the Chief Exec of Siemens describe this decision as grave, dangerous, etc. So I find it difficult to understand why a so called pro business party such as the Conservatives have so many people committed to Brexit. They always seemed so proud of Mrs T’s rebate but if we adopt a Norway model, revert to WTO rules surely these are worse for business would you agree?

    • Yes 100% – British nationalism has trumped economic common sense. Also the Norway model involves a trade levy instant of a membership fee and that levy is 95% of the UK membership fee on a per head basis – once you take the rebate out of the calculation it could cost more. Also you still have to follow EU regulations and have open borders without immigration controls on EU citizens and you get no MEPS and no grants.

      In other words everything a brexit was supposed to achieve it makes worse – you still have to pay – you still have to obey but you get no say!

        • English nationalism I think is a very different identity to British and many many Scots and Northern Irish in particular are British nationalists and see very little connect with England. When I debated in the EU ref almost all my opponents were better together debtors Scottish and now wanting to leave the EU – they think Scotland should be ruled by Westminster but still describe themselves as Scottish. Hence British nationalism.

  • Because our Democracy is built to maintain the Union it makes little attempt to be representative. I know there are issues that need to be resolved around using the past precedent of Greenland. There would need to be Referendum to see which parts wished to be included. An autonomous England needs to be established and somehow we need the sovereignty at the EU arranged, perhaps keeping that under the Home Office. I expect this will be resisted and possibly rejected by Westminster but it is a solution to the constitutional questions raised in Gibraltar, N.Ireland and Scotland.

  • Gordon what do you think of the idea that the indyref will be run for independence and a view to join the EEC / EEA rather than the EU, at least as a transition period. This should satisfy Indy supporters that are against the EU, take the whole adopting Euro argument out of the equation – for now anyway, address the concerns about membership fees etc. But still allow access to the single market (and allow trade with the U.K.) and still allow free movement.

    When we have Indy, I’m sure if those against the EU are vocal enough a party will exist to create a party for a future general election and then at that point it would be a choice to join the EU? Just seems like an easier option to a complex situation.

    • I have always said that EFTA is a valid relationship for an independent Scotland to have with the EU – financial though it is not as good for us as full membership so that would be my first choice. It doesn’t address any concerns about membership fees Norway for example pay 95% per head of the UK’s membership fees after the rebate and get no grants so there is actually no saving its more expensive – I said this during the campaign

        • Sorry its not the EFTA fees that are the problem – the EU takes a trading levy from Norway based on what it would cost to be a full member – calculated on GDP /VAT receipts – and that money is sued to support emerging eastern european economies to bring then up to EU GDP and productivity / capital investment standards. The EU can allow anyone access for less than the price of membership or no one would pay the membership fee. If you pay less you have less access – Switzerland pay 56% of our fees per head but has no Financial sector Passporting and that would cost London 50k high paid jobs.

          • Gordon, you make some great points, but when you talk down the Norway, Switzerland or Iceland models, it’s not giving the full story. Yes, they have to pay and yes, they are influenced by EU law, BUT they can also negotiate bilateral trade deals with other markets worldwide… and are all thriving as a result!

          • I have always been at pains to state that a Norway style deal is a perfectly good option for smaller independent nations with far higher GDP per head etc just not for Scotland in the early years of independence and the UK joining EFTA would be takeover not a new member so it will have to negotiate a separate deal and that will take many years.

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