Already Project Fear: The Revenge is back in action. We’re being inundated with claims from Thatcherite think-tank members about how the UK’s appalling mismanagement of Scotland means that if nothing changed after independence, then we’d be Greece without the sun. We’re seeing Leavers scoffing at “experts” for their portents of doom and gloom in the event of the UK leaving the EU nodding their heads vigorously as those same individuals predict disaster if Scotland leaves the UK. We’re watching as the BBC has the unmitigated brass neck to ask “what about the currency/borders/uncertainty” of an independent Scotland during the greatest period of economic uncertainty the UK has been in for decades.
Both Leave and Remain campaigners and politicians are now rounding in on Scotland, trying to convince us once again that being out of the UK would make us worse off, even as they tear us out of the EU against our collective sovereign will. What’s worse, they’re trying to pretend that our First Minister’s pleas for the EU not to let Scotland down have fallen on deaf ears – that the sovereign will of the people of Scotland counts for as little in Europe as it does in the UK. They wouldn’t shut up about our sovereign will in 2014: why, then, are they so eager to ignore it now? Why do we seem to have no friends in our own media?
Luckily, we have friends to back us up elsewhere: friends who may be wildly divergent from Scotland on political, cultural, economic and social grounds, but nonetheless believe in our right to be part of their community. This post will serve as a repository to counter the endless lurid headlines threatening ruin and crisis and failure for the people of Scotland should they have the audacity to do what so many Brexiteers wanted for the UK, yet not Scotland.
If your only source of news was the mainstream media, you could be forgiven for thinking that the consensus in the EU regarding an independent Scotland was bleak. Spain would, apparently, veto Scotland’s place in the EU. So, allegedly, would France. And when our First Minister – with the greatest democratic mandate of any government in Western Europe – went to Brussels to meet with EU officials in regards to Scotland’s place, it seems that this bold act of outreach fell on deaf ears. The language is violent, merciless and sadistic. The First Minister of Scotland, in acting to secure the democratic will of the people of Scotland, is “running out of friends” and has to “beg” Ireland to help us out.
Let’s be clear about this: Nicola Sturgeon is not out in Brussels to represent only SNP voters, or independence supporters, but the 62% of Scots who voted to remain in the European Union. Like it or lump it, she is unquestionably representing the democratic will of the majority of the people of Scotland in seeking to retain the Scottish people’s European membership. And newspapers like the Express, the D**** M***, the Telegraph, and the Sun are revelling in what they perceive to be the “humiliation,” the “rejection,” the “desperation,” of Nicola Sturgeon, who is “running out of friends” as the EU’s “snub” delivers a “devastating blow” which “kills off” what is apparently only her “bid” for Scotland’s EU membership.
This contemptuous mockery of the democratic will of 62% of Scottish is an inexcusable disgrace. Take “Sturgeon” out of those headlines, and replace it with “the majority of Scots.” Because that’s what this is about, now. You’re not just denigrating SNP voters or pro-independence Scots any more – you’re ridiculing every person in Scotland who wants to remain in the EU, a country where every single constituency voted to remain in the EU, where 3 out of every 5 Scots wanted to retain their membership. This is what happens when you personalise a political movement. And now you’re doing it to the majority of voters of Scotland.
It should come as no surprise that all the papers included in the above gallery backed a Leave vote in 2016, and a No vote in 2014. They believe Scotland is British, and that the UK is their chosen polis. Therefore, there is no inconsistency between them ridiculing the Remain-supporting Nicola Sturgeon, SNP and Scots, because from a UK context, the majority of Scots is still a minority. Scots have to suck it up: “Leave won, you lost, get over it.” Well, you’ve given us a lot to think about – like whether we want to remain in a UK that treats our sovereign will with such little respect.
A European Community
It’s probably telling that it’s the deeply conservative D**** M***, Express, Sun, & Telegraph who have taken the “First Minister didn’t have meeting with one particular EU leader = SNUBBED BY EU” meme so eagerly, given some of the anti-Scottish nonsense they’ve come up with in the past. Of course, it means they’d have to ignore several things that make mincemeat of their cackling delight in Scotland’s supposed failure.
But the reality is rather different. Here’s Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, meeting the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker:
Margaritis Schinas, chief spokesperson for the EU Commission:
And in Mr Juncker’s own words:
Here, the First Minister is meeting the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.
Speaking to one of Belgium’s Francophone newspapers, an unnamed EU official said:
“Si les Ecossais se dépêchent, deviennent indépendants avant que le processus de séparation entre Londres et l’Union ne s’achève et déclarent être liés par l’acquis communautaire, ils pourraient rester dans l’UE sans difficultés en reprenant le statut du Royaume-Uni.”
(translation) If the Scots hurry, become independent before the separation process between London and the Union ends and declare their continued attachment to the community, they could stay in the EU without difficulty by taking the status of the UK.
– La Libra Belgique, 30th June 2016
It’s not just the European Parliament. A “senior Eurozone government official” was quoted by Buzzfeed News last week as saying “an independent Scotland would probably be granted a fast track to EU membership”.
In fact, countries all around the EU have voiced their support for Scotland remaining part of their community.
The First Minister met with former Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group, which has 70 MEPs:
Here, Mr Verhofstadt explains his perspective on Scotland remaining part of the EU in the event of independence:
And here, he describes the possible future of the UK outside of the EU:
“The Dual Kingdom of England and Wales”: a very interesting turn of phrase, is it not?
Dr Paul Millar, the honorary consul general of the Czech Republic, went further by saying he personally supports Scottish independence. Millar said: “It’s a nation, if the nation decides in a referendum, fair enough.”
He added that Czech citizens who may be worried about their future in Scotland should “stay cool”.
– Daily Record, 6th July 2016
Jeppe Kofod MEP, leader of the Socialist Democrats (Denmark) group, said:
We listened carefully to Scotland. We know coming from smaller state like Denmark how important it is to be part of single market. It is huge. There are legal rules. We can’t regulate on Scotland because rules will not allow it. It is an internal UK matter to be resolved. I understand Scotland wants to remain. It is natural for Denmark to communicate with Scotland.
– Evening Times, 9th July 2016
Anders Vistisen MEP of the Danish People’s Party and European Conservatives & Reformists Group confirms that the major obstacle in Scotland talking with the EU is the UK itself:
According to Vistisen, there is “a lot of goodwill” from the European institutions towards Sturgeon’s desire to remain in the EU, But Spain, France, Italy and Belgium are the obstacles that have to be overcome.
The “only chance” Vistisen can see of Scotland maintaining or retaining its EU membership is if independence can be secured through a second independence referendum.
“When you become a sovereign nation, you could then apply like any other nation. That would be the only instance in which they would think about taking in Scotland again,” he said.
– The Scotsman, 2nd July 2016
Would welcome Scotland as EU member: Senior German Social Democrat
The parliamentary floor leader of Germany’s Social Democrats, Thomas Oppermann, said on Friday he would welcome Scotland as a member of the European Union if it were to become independent.
“The Scots have made clear that their place is in Europe and if Scotland gains its independence in the end and again joins the European Union, then that would not balance out the loss for Great Britain but I would warmly welcome the Scots in Europe,” Oppermann told reporters in Berlin.
The Social Democrats are the junior party in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition government.
– Reuters, 24th June 2016
While Mr Oppermann is a politician of no small influence, he is still only one politician, and a member of the junior party in the coalition: is anyone else in Germany so welcoming to Scotland?
Scotland, N Ireland can stay in EU says Merkel ally
Scotland and even Northern Ireland would be welcome to remain members of the EU according to Manfred Weber, a top MEP and key ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Speaking to reporters on Friday morning, Mr Weber criticised the decision for Britain to leave but added: “On the Scottish level: to go the other way, it is up to them. Europe is open to new member states, that is totally clear. Those who want to stay are welcome in the European Union.”
– Financial Times, 24th June 2016
Mr Weber is the leader of the European People’s Party Group, the largest group in the European Parliament with 216 members. And he’s not alone among the German chancellor’s colleagues:
Scotland welcome to join EU, Merkel ally says
An independent Scotland would be welcome to join the European Union, a senior German lawmaker and ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel has said after Britain’s vote to leave the bloc.
Gunther Krichbaum, a member of Angela Merkel’s conservatives and chairman of the European affairs committee in parliament, said an independent Scotland would be welcome to join the European Union.
“The EU will still consist of 28 member states, as I expect a new independence referendum in Scotland, which will then be successful,” said “We should respond quickly to an application for admission from the EU-friendly country,” he told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
– Reuters, 27th June 2016
Gabriel said the EU would certainly accept Scotland as a member in its own right if the country leaves the United Kingdom and wants to join the EU.
– Reuters, 3rd July 2016
Sigmar Gabriel is the Minister for Economic Affairs & Energy, the Vice Chancellor, and Chairman of the Social Democratic Party. Support for Scotland’s place in the EU can be found all across the political spectrum, from the centre-right:
To the centre-left:
We will support exploring all the options that would allow pro-European Scotland to remain within the EU, as they have cleared voted to do.
at the European Parliament.
It is clear Scotland has voted to remain. I guess it is a boost to independence. If Scotland proposes to become independent we should make sure it can remain in the EU.
– Evening Times, 9th July 2016
Urmas Paet MEP, former Estonian Minister of Culture, and longtime Minister of Foreign Affairs:
That holding the referendum and leaving the EU may lead to a breakup of Great Britain itself is increasingly likely. But this too didn’t matter to the Brexit activists.
– Baltic Times, 26th June 2016
Jürgen Ligi, the Estonian Minister of Education & Research, formerly Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance:
Great and proud Britain became smaller overnight. Exactly by how much can be measured by only a few criteria — the exchange rate of the pound and the value of assets are making the economy smaller; territorially, Scotland’s leaving may prove a measure.
– Baltic Times, 29th June 2016
Now why would he suggest such a thing occurring?
John Bruton, former Prime Minister of Ireland, said the Scottish Government’s timetable for European integration after a 2014 Yes vote was entirely feasible:
Enda Kenny is the Taoiseach of Ireland, and spoke for the First Minister at the European Summit after the EU referendum:
The issue of Scotland’s position has already been placed to the fore by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The future of Scotland within the UK is a matter for the people of Scotland. However the future of Scotland within the EU should it leave the UK is a matter which concerns all EU states.
I and my party believe that it would be unacceptable for Scotland to be treated as a normal candidate country should it seek to remain as a member of the EU. It currently implements all EU laws. It manifestly would not need to be reviewed for its standards of governance and ability to implement EU laws. It has a strong administration, a distinct legal system and an absolute commitment to European ideals.
Scotland is strong enough to advocate for itself, but Ireland should be its friend and demand fair play should it seek to remain in the EU.
– Statement by Micheál Martin, 27th June 2016
Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, speaking at the Scottish parliament a few days after the European Referendum:
The Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Garcia-Margallo, expressly denied in 2012 that Spain would veto the membership of an independent Scotland:
“If in the UK both parties agree that this is consistent with their constitutional order, written or unwritten, Spain would have nothing to say, just that this does not affect us.
“No one would object to a consented independence of Scotland.”
He said the independence of Kosovo was different because it was based on a “unilateral decision” and admitted the Spanish position would have been different if it had been agreed between Belgrade and Pristina.
– The Express, 26th February, 2012
The Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo said this in February 2012. This stance makes perfect sense, as Spain has welcomed the independence of several new countries – including ones that joined the European Union.
When Kosovo declared independence from Serbia over four years ago, it was quickly recognised by most of the members of the European Union. However, five members – Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain – refused to follow suit. This has led to suggestions that these countries may also refuse to accept Scottish independence and keep it out of the EU.
This is very unlikely, for a number of reasons. For a start, the problem in the case of Kosovo is not the issue of secession. It is the unilateral way in which it was done. If a territory becomes independent with the consent of all the parties concerned, there is little reason to believe that these countries will oppose the move.
The strongest evidence to support this view is their reaction to the independence of South Sudan, in July 2011. This occurred with the overt support of the Sudanese government, which was the first country in the world to recognise it. Within hours, the European Union issued a joint statement congratulating the new state on its independence. There was not a murmur of dissent from any of the five countries to this act of collective recognition. Even at an individual level, there seems little to suggest that any of them would block Scotland’s membership of the European Union.
What Spain will never accept is if now Scotland tries to get a separate status for Scotland [in the EU] inside the United Kingdom. Spain cannot accept anything that would represent a precedent that could be used by the Catalonian separatists…
… If Scotland could separate from the United Kingdom by an agreement that is constitutionally valid between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, then, of course, it is a different matter. It is a different battle.
The idea that Spain would veto a recently independent Scotland’s membership of the EU, yet not veto the recently independent Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, or Slovenia – to say nothing of EU candidates Macedonia & Montenegro – seems ludicrous, especially considering that the people of Scotland have already been EU members for decades.
Yet even if the Spanish government were so self-destructively bullheaded as to oppose Scotland’s place in the EU, the fact that the UK has voted to leave removes even the threat of a veto entirely:
If Scotland, whether as successor state or with some other arrangement, wanted to proceed under the umbrella of article 50, it would be looking for a majority, rather than unanimity.
But if Scotland was looking for recognition as a new independent state, there might be pressure to go to article 49, which is the accession procedure, and that requires unanimity.
Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott is a familiar face to followers of Scottish constitutional debate, having written on an independent Scotland’s place in the EU since before the independence referendum.
And, naturally, Scotland’s friends in Catalunya are supportive of the democratic mandate of the Scottish people:
I fully support the will of the Scottish people to remain in the EU… As a Catalan, I would be delighted if there is a second referendum. If Scotland became independent and rejoined the EU, it would be fantastic.
– The Scotsman, 2nd July 2016
Ramon Tremosa MEP is a member of the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia.
Much has been made of François Hollande’s remarks. However, there are French politicians who are openly supportive of Scotland. Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the president of the Union of Democrats and Independents, the third largest party in France, wrote a letter to Mr Hollande concerning the UK’s exit:
La sortie de la Grande-Bretagne doit être conduite et négociée sans délai afin de ne pas ouvrir une longue période d’incertitude dont nous ferions les frais. Dans le même temps, l’Union Européenne doit affirmer clairement qu’elle reste ouverte aux Ecossais et aux Irlandais du Nord s’ils venaient à s’en donner les moyens.
(translation) The departure of Great Britain should be conducted and negotiated without delay so as not to open a long period of uncertainty which would cost us. At the same time, the EU must make clear that it remains open to the Scots and Northern Irish if they were to provide the means.
– Letter to François Hollande
(I won’t comment on the initials of his party…)
Gianni Pittella, the leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats group of 191 MEPs in the European Parliament, said:
We just expressed our sadness for the unfortunate outcome of the referendum and at the same time the sympathy to the Scottish attachment to the EU integration. We reassured Sturgeon we’ll closely follow how this new situation will internally develop in the UK.
– The Parliament Magazine, 27th June 2016
Dear First Minister,
It should not surprise you to receive from Barga, municipality of Tuscany, in these days of such tension, a message of solidarity and encouragement for the decision to pursue Scotland remaining a member of the EU following the vote on Brexit and its consequences.
For the rapport that the city of Barga entertains with Scotland, a relationship which is so intense that we are known as the most Scottish of Italian Municipalities, the vote from Scotland to remain was evaluated by us with great satisfaction and equally great admiration.
The fact that the overwhelming majority of Scots have voted to confirm the membership of Europe was further proof of their political maturity and another index of the high degree of civilization that characterizes your people to whom we are bound by deep ties of friendship.
This is a secular history, that is born from the experience of the migration of our people that is seated in Scotland starting from the second half of the nineteenth century and that in the coming years, thanks to the commitment of the Former Lord Provost of Glagow Alex Mosson, the Mayor of East Lothian Pat O’Brien, and painter John Bellany, whose frescoes are in the palace of the Parliament in Edinburgh, has transformed into a veritable conjunction made of friendship, respect and brotherhood.
In recent years the city of Barga has established a twinning agreement with the Municipality of Glasgow and with the communities of East Lothian and has hosted the official visits of mayors of Edinburgh, Glasgow and East Lothian. In their turn the representatives of the city of Barga were received everywhere in Scotland with great cordiality and consideration.
It has thus created a climate of brotherhood and friendship that has resulted in a series of events of great historical and cultural value starting from the stupendous exhibition of painting of the landscape of Lucca to the Mitchell Library of Glasgow, which was inaugurated by Jack Mc Connell, then First Minister of Scotland and Liz Cameron, who was Mayor of Glasgow to arrive at the inauguration of the monument to the dead of the Arandora Star, which was thought of, desired and realized by Monsignor Mario Conti, Archbishop of Glasgow, from recognized barghigiane origins.
It was precisely on the occasion of the inauguration that I was able to meet Mr Alex Salmond, then First Minister of Scotland and have with him a short exchange of words all concentrated on underlining the connection between Barga and Scotland. I told him that, in a sense, this also made him First Minister of our Commune Barga ,”the most Scottish town in Italy” where he would be most welcome at any time.
Words and thoughts now turn to Scotland with the encouragement to proceed in action in order to avert Brexit and to maintain her place in Europe . Barga is ready to celebrate.
Umberto Sereni – Former Mayor of Barga
I think it speaks for itself.
Remember this man?
Vytenis Andriukaitis is Lithuania’s European Commissioner. He wrote an article elucidating exactly what he was thinking as Nigel Farage blustered about people who’ve “never had a proper job.” What he says about Scotland – as well as Northern Ireland and London – is most intriguing:
Britain is changing. Young people in Scotland, Northern Ireland or London want to see a different future.
The EU is changing as well. For me its future lies in social justice and security. This is the way forward. And only together, with the EU Member States, with the European Parliament, and with a decisive European Council – avoiding the cacophony and constant bashing of Brussels – can we achieve this together.
What’s particularly interesting is that Mr Andriukaitis not only represents a nation which became independent comparatively recently, but he lived and grew up in Lithuania prior to its independence.
John Clifford is the Honorary Consul General for Austria in Edinburgh:
It’s an internal matter for the UK and we’d make no comment. However, it is clear that were Scotland to be independent, it would be welcome in the EU. There would be no question about that.
– Daily Record, 6th July 2016
Austria has close links with Scotland’s renewable energy projects: they will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on us.
Hans Jörg Schelling, the Minister of Finance in the Austrian government, was almost as damning as Mr Verhofstadt:
I think probably there will be a ‘Brexit-light’, so Scotland will not leave (the EU), probably Northern Ireland will stay in the union, and probably Great Britain becomes Little Britain.
– France24, 11th July 2016
First “Dual Kingdom of England and Wales,” now “Little Britain.”
The people of Scotland and the people of Northern Ireland voted with a majority in order to stay. Yes, I would hope that all possibilities or options should be looked at. Maybe there is a way for Scotland to remain.
Ms Lunacek also spoke warmly of Alyn Smith’s speech, saying “I think it touched a chord with many of us who have been disappointed, angry at the irresponsible leaders. It was a very emotional moment.”
Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Vice-President of the European People’s Party and former Vice-President of the European Parliament, posted a series of Tweets following the referendum which were highly favourable to Scotland, her politicians, and our two nations’ historical connections:
Here’s Robert Fico, the next President of the European Union, ensuring – according to the Scottish Daily Mail – that there can’t even be any discussions about Scotland retaining its EU membership while it’s still in the UK.
SNP’S EU BID IN TATTERS
Nicola Sturgeon’s bid to keep Scotland in the EU was in ruins last night after the Slovakian prime minister said Europe wants no more ‘political earthquakes’.
The intervention by Robert Fico is hugely significant as Slovakia yesterday took over the presidency of the EU ahead of the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
Mr Fico ruled out talking to Scotland while the nation is part of the UK, joining six other European countries in taking a hardline stance with Miss Sturgeon.
– D**** Scottish M***, 1st July 2016
But on the other hand, here he is offering to preside over a successful bid for Scottish independence within the EU:
Slovak leader promises help with velvet divorce
The European Union’s next president has offered to help broker the divorce between Scotland and the rest of the UK should voters elect to dissolve the Union over disagreement on Brexit.
Robert Fico, the prime minister of Slovakia, who is due to take over the EU’s rotating presidency on Monday, said his diplomats would help to negotiate an amicable separation modelled on the so-called velvet divorce that resulted in the break up of Czechoslovakia in 1993 if Scotland decides to leave the UK in order to stay in the EU.
– The Times, 1st July 2016, 12:01am
Lubomir Rehak is the Slovakian Ambassador to the UK, tweeting that in fact he was engaged in talks with Scottish Government ministers already:
The People of Europe
On 7th July 2016, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Constance, and Fiona Hyslop met with representatives of several European nations to seek to reassure EU citizens in Scotland:
Dariusz Adler, Consul-General, Poland
John Clifford, Honorary Consul, Austria
Emmanuel Cocher, Consul-General, France
Mihai Delcea, Head of Consular Office, Romania
Miguel Utray Delgado, Consul-General, Spain
Frank Gill, Honorary Consul-General, Netherlands
Mark Hanniffy, Consul-General, Ireland
Dr Constantinos Hajivassiliou, Honorary Consul-General, Republic of Cyprus
Peter J Hillier, Honorary Consul, Luxembourg
Iain Lawson, Honorary Consul, Estonia
Yves Lemarchand, Honorary Consul, Belgium
Professor Stuart MacPherson, Honorary Consul, Denmark
Dr Paul Millar, Honorary Consul-General, Czech Republic
Craig Murray, Honorary Consul, Slovakia
Carlo Perotta, Consul General, Italy
James H Rust, Honorary Consul, Portugal
Jens-Peter Voss, Consul-General, Germany
Ana Wersun, Honorary Consul-General, Slovenia
Yet it is not just the politicians who support Scotland’s clear democratic mandate. A YouGov poll of seven member states found that a majority of citizens think that in the even Scotland becomes independent, it should be part of the EU:
By my calculations, excluding undecideds, that means 88% of Germans, 89% of Danes, 87% of Finns, 83% of Swedes, 79% of French, 70% of Norwegians, & even 59% of Britons would accept Scotland being part of the European Union in the event it becomes independent. That’s pretty remarkable, and telling that the five nations which are actually inside the EU are so strongly in favour.
The forces determined to keep Scotland in the UK, even at the expense of the UK’s membership of the EU, are playing a particularly cruel and hateful game. They are trying to present the idea that the EU doesn’t care about Scotland: that they will either reject them despite being members for 40 years, or implement horrendous austerity and punitive recriminations. In other words, they’re trying to pretend that the EU will treat Scotland as horribly as the UK has. The Leave-promoting newspapers and media will be all too determined to present this charade of a brutal, imperial Europe in contrast to a loving, caring UK – but we cannot trust even the Remain-supporting media not to fall back into old habits.
It’s up to those who want to protect Scotland’s clear democratic mandate of continued EU membership to show that Scotland will not be alone when it regains its independence.
Hopefully all the EU member states will eventually be listed. Still to be included: Bǎlgariya/България (Bulgaria), Elláda/Ελλάδα (Greece), Hrvatska (Croatia), Latvija (Latvia), Lëtzebuerg (Luxembourg), Kypros/Κύπρος (Cyprus), Magyarország (Hungary), Malta, Nederland (Netherlands), Portugal, România, Suomi (Finland), & Sverige (Sweden).
11th July: updated to include Austrian & Czech Consuls; YouGov poll of Danish, German, French, Finnish, Swedish & Norwegian public
12th July: updated to include representatives from Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Lithuania & Slovenia
12 July (2): updated with some edits & bits & bobs courtesy of the Reverend, who has posted an abridged version of this article on Wings Over Scotland
22 July: updated to include more from Austria