Spain would not ‘initially’ block Scotland from joining the EU after Brexit
MADRID – ReutersSpain has said it would not “initially” veto an attempt by an independent Scotland to join the European Union after Britain has left the bloc, its foreign minister said in interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Spain has long been seen as an obstacle to an independent Scotland joining the EU to deter separatists in some of its own regions.
“Initially, I don’t think we would block it,” Alfonso Dastis said in an interview published on April 2.
However, he added Scotland would leave the EU with Britain, “the rest we will see.”
He also said Spain did not welcome fragmentation of the European family.
“Having said that, if, in application of its laws, the outcome of that process is a division of the United Kingdom, any part of the United Kingdom that becomes a state and wants to join the EU will have to apply. And follow the steps that are stipulated.”
Dastis’ remarks came two days after the Scottish government on March 31 formally asked British Prime Minister Theresa May for a second referendum on independence, deepening a constitutional crisis sparked by the Brexit vote.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote a letter to May telling her that Scotland did not want to leave Europe’s single market, two days after Britain launched the process of leaving the European Union.
“The people of Scotland must have the right to choose our own future,” Sturgeon, leader of the ruling Scottish National Party, said in the letter.
Scotland voted to remain in the EU in last year’s referendum but Britain as a whole voted to leave.
Sturgeon argues that this means the circumstances have changed since a 2014 independence referendum in which 55 percent voted to stay part of Britain.
She said the government had rejected “all attempts at compromise” on Brexit - a reference to her proposal for Scotland to be allowed to stay in the European single market even as the rest of Britain leaves.
“There appears to be no rational reason for you to stand in the way of the will of the Scottish parliament and I hope you will not do so,” she said.