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