Wishart: Leav­ing EU ‘no great ba­sis’ for Indyref 2

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Gareth Rose

A SE­NIOR Na­tion­al­ist has ad­mit­ted Brexit is not ‘a great ba­sis’ for Ni­cola Stur­geon’s in­de­pen­dence bid.

The com­ments by Pete Wishart, one of the party’s most ex­pe­ri­enced MPs, re­veal a ner­vous­ness at the heart of the SNP about plans for a se­cond ref­er­en­dum.

They fly in the face of Miss Stur­geon’s claim Scot­land’s vote to Re­main in the EU, even as the UK voted to leave, jus­ti­fies an­other vote on break­ing up Bri­tain.

Perth and North Perthshire MP Mr Wishart said the party was de­ter­mined to stand up for Scots vot­ers – but that he fears the tim­ing is wrong for an­other in­de­pen­dence push.

Speak­ing on BBC Ra­dio 4, he said: ‘In­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum – that’s what I want. I want in­de­pen­dence for my coun­try, ob­vi­ously. But hav­ing it done on the ba­sis of the UK be­ing out of the EU, I don’t think it’s a great ba­sis to go into a se­cond ref­er­en­dum.’

Miss Stur­geon is de­mand­ing a ‘dif­fer­en­ti­ated deal’ for Scot­land, al­low­ing it to be part of the EU sin­gle mar­ket through the Euro­pean Free Trade Area (EFTA) or Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area (EEA) and has threat­ened a se­cond in­de­pen­dence vote if she does not get her way.

But Scot­tish Sec­re­tary David Mun­dell has stressed that such a deal would harm UK trade, busi­nesses and jobs.

He has held talks with Sir Tim Bar­row, the UK’s new am­bas­sador to the EU, lead­ing busi­ness fig­ures in­clud­ing CBI Europe di­rec­tor Sean McGuire and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of sev­eral mem­ber states.

Mr McGuire said: ‘Busi­nesses are 100 per cent com­mit­ted to mak­ing a success of Brexit. The voices of all de­volved na­tions, in­clud­ing Scot­land, need to be heard loud and clear in West­min­ster as the UK ap­proaches the trig­ger­ing of Ar­ti­cle 50.’

Mean­while, a Euro­pean ex­pert warned the SNP’s plan for a dif­fer­en­ti­ated deal would be ‘prob­lem­atic’ and would lead to bar­ri­ers between Scot­land and Eng­land.

Speak­ing to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment’s Con­sti­tu­tional Com­mit­tee in Brus­sels on Thurs­day, Dr Kirsty Hughes, a se­nior fel­low at pro-EU think­tank Friends of Europe, said the SNP’s plan would cre­ate bar­ri­ers to trade within the UK.

She added: ‘If Scot­land, as a sub-state, was in EFTA or EEA – if it had man­aged to get po­lit­i­cal agree­ment to change the terms on which you can join those or­gan­i­sa­tions – I think it would be very dif­fi­cult for it also to be in a UK-wide cus­toms union.

‘So I think it’s po­ten­tially prob­lem­atic. Some of these is­sues are prob­lem­atic for Scot­land and

the UK, as they are con­cerned not to have a bor­der between the North of Eng­land and Scot­land.

‘Of con­cern to the EU is, if Scot­land was in the sin­gle mar­ket and the rest of the UK was not, how do you en­sure that’s not a back door for UK firms to come to the mar­ket with­out hav­ing proof of ori­gin, reg­u­la­tory checks and so on?’

Tory MEP Ian Dun­can said: ‘The ver­dict is in on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s plan and the clear mes­sage is that it sim­ply does not work.’

But a Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment spokesman said: ‘There is not an ei­ther/or choice between main­tain­ing Scot­land’s place in the Euro­pean sin­gle mar­ket and free trade across the UK.’

TIM­ING FEARS: Pete Wishart MP

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