Nicola Sturgeon grilled by Sarwar on handling of pandemic
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On January 1, the post-Brexit transition period expired, meaning EU rules no longer apply in Britain. It is a new chapter for the country’s national history – but not everyone in the UK has given up on EU membership. Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejecting her independence demands, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a second referendum as soon as the coronavirus pandemic is over.
Since 2016, the SNP leader has been trying to build support for independence on the back of Brexit.
Not even a month after the referendum, Ms Sturgeon urged Enda Kenny, the then leader of the Republic of Ireland, to intervene at the European Council in an attempt to prevent the Scots being “dragged out” of the bloc.
The pair had apparently spoken several times about the EU referendum and its potential impact on Scottish independence.
Mr Kenny spoke up at a meeting of European leaders about Scotland, whose voters overwhelmingly supported remaining in the EU, while a non-plussed David Cameron looked on.
The former Irish Taoiseach explained following the meeting he had a “very strong belief that Scotland should have not been dragged out of the European Union having voted to stay.”
Ms Sturgeon said following the meeting: “I spoke to him again on the telephone yesterday asking him to make Scotland’s voice heard and I know he has done that, and by all accounts he had done that very effectively.
“I am very grateful to him for that.”
Mr Kenny was sharply criticised for getting involved in UK matters, though, with one Ukip politician describing him as a “trouble-making messenger boy” and a “gopher.”
Former MEP David Coburn also accused Mr Kenny of “interfering in the internal affairs of the UK at EU level”.
He said: “Instead of acting as a trouble-making messenger boy for the SNP, Enda Kenny would be better off explaining to Ms Sturgeon that national democracy and EU membership are incompatible.”
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Mr Coburn added the Irish leader would have been “better off ensuring the prosperity and democratic self-governance of the Irish people.”
Ms Sturgeon’s hopes of keeping Scotland in the EU took another hit when Spain and France spoke out.
Former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said: “I am extremely against it, the treaties are extremely against it and I believe everyone is extremely against it. If the United Kingdom leaves, Scotland leaves.”
Former French President Francois Hollande backed up his Spanish counterpart, insisting exit talks would have only been held with the UK Government and not the Holyrood administration.
He said: “The negotiations will be conducted with the UK, not with a part of the UK.”
Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark and Hungary have also raised their opposition to the move.
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In a recent interview with Express.co.uk, economics professor at Edinburgh Napier University Piotr Jaworski explained why Brussels is not interested in having Scotland in its bloc.
He said: “First of all, countries that have splitting tendencies, such as Spain or Belgium, will never agree.
“You then have got countries like Germany and France… and the question is ‘why should they want Scotland in?’
“I personally don’t know why.
“We don’t have a big economy, we would have problems almost like Greece, in terms of public deficit.
“Is it really in their interest to have another Greece?”
Dr Jaworski noted that Ms Sturgeon should find something to make Scotland more attractive in the eyes of Brussels.
He added: “The First Minister is trying… with talks about electricity and power.
“But do we have it now? Can we sell it? Who is going to invest in this?
“We don’t even have money to invest in the buses…”
The annual government expenditure and revenue Scotland report (GERS) found Scotland’s fiscal deficit for 2019-20 was 8.6 percent of GDP, up from 7.4 percent the previous year.
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