Tough for Scot­land to re­join EU, warns key ally of Merkel

MEP warns just one state – such as Spain – can veto mem­ber­ship

The Press and Journal (Highlands & Islands) - - News - BY KIERAN AN­DREWS IN STRAS­BOURG

A key ally of An­ge­laMerkel has warned that an in­de­pen­dent Scot­land would find it “hard work” to re­join the EU.

David McAllister, whose fa­ther­was­born­inGlas­gow, said all the le­gal re­quire­ments are in place for a coun­try sep­a­rated from the UK to be part of the bloc, but pointed out any mem­ber state could still veto mem­ber­ship.

Euro­pean Par­lia­ment sources in­sist Spain is pre­pared to block a po­ten­tial Scot­tish move un­less sig­nif­i­cant con­ces­sions are made over fish­ing rights.

It is also un­der­stoodSNP of­fi­cials have been ad­vised by se­nior fig­ures on the Con­ti­nent to dis­tance them­selves from the Cata­lan in­de­pen­dence cam­paign, which is in­volved in a bit­ter dis­pute with the Madrid gov­ern­ment, to curry favour with Span­ish politi­cians.

First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Stur­geon has re­peat­edly said a se­cond in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum is likely, fol­low­ing the vote to leave the EU, but has not re­quested a sec­tion 30 or­der, le­gally re­quired from the UK Gov­ern­ment to re­run 2014.

In an in­ter­view at his Stras­bourg of­fice, MrMcAl­lis­ter, who chairs the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s for­eign af­fairs com­mit­tee, said: “Leav­ing the EU is hard, but join­ing the EU is hard work too. An in­de­pen­dent state, in Europe, share our val­ues, com­pli­cated ac­ces­sion process and, in the end, all mem­ber states must agree.

“One sin­gle state can veto. It’s not up to me to give an an­swer for an in­de­pen­dent Scot­land, I can just tell you what the rules are­an­dit isupto oth­er­peo­ple to de­cide. Scot­land at the mo­ment has ful­filled theEU‘ac­quis’ (body of leg­is­la­tion) to 100%.”

Mr McAllister, an MEP for the Chris­tian Demo­cratic Union who has been tipped as a re­place­ment for Ms Merkel as the party’s leader and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor, in­sisted he was neu­tral on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence de­spite his her­itage.

He praised the ac­tions of Ms Stur­geon in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of last June’s EU ref­er­en­dum, when she met se­nior politi­cians on the con­ti­nent.

Mr McAllister, 46, stressed, how­ever, that no Euro­pean lead­ers will do any back­room deals with the SNP leader while Scot­land is part of the UK.

He added: “After the Brexit ref­er­en­dum, a lot of peo­ple, in­clud­ing the peo­ple who caused this mess, were nowhere to be seen and weren’t to be heard.

“The first min­is­ter came to Brus­sels. She spoke to peo­ple and I didn’t un­der­stand why the com­mis­sion pres­i­dent and par­lia­ment pres­i­dent were crit­i­cised for re­ceiv­ing the first min­is­ter.

“But the ne­go­ti­a­tions will be with Lon­don and you will find no­body from the Euro­pean in­sti­tu­tions who will try and in­ter­fere in these do­mes­tic ques­tions.”

SNPMSPJoanMcAlpine re­sponded: “This is an­other sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­ven­tion from a se­nior EU fig­ure, mak­ing patently clear that Scot­land al­ready ful­fils all of the cri­te­ria to be­come an EU mem­ber state.

“There re­mains only one sig­nif­i­cant risk to Scot­land's re­la­tion­ship with­Europe – that's There­saMay's dogged com­mit­ment to a To­ry­hardBrexit, which­will dam­age our econ­omy, drag us out of a sin­gle mar­ket eight times larger than the UK's and cost 80,000 Scot­tish jobs."

“Ne­go­ti­a­tions will be with Lon­don and you will find no­body from Europe who will in­ter­fere”

IT’S NOT UP TO ME: David McAllister says he is neu­tral on Scot­tish in­de­pen­dence de­spite his her­itage

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