EU’s Brexit bitterness as members ‘provoking UK’ with support for Sturgeon Independence

Nicola Sturgeon promises second referendum by end of 2023

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The Scottish First Minister has suggested that a Supreme Court ruling makes the case for independence even stronger. This week, the court — the UK’s highest — said that two pieces of legislation passed by MSPs earlier this year went beyond the Scottish Parliament’s powers. The pieces, which sought to enshrine treaties on children’s rights and local government in Scots law, must return to Holyrood to be redrafted, the court ruled.

The ruling said that sections in both Bills could undermine the “unqualified power” of the UK Parliament to make laws for Scotland, which would be in breach of the 1998 Scotland Act.

But Ms Sturgeon said this made the case for independence even stronger as being in the UK overrode Holyrood’s autonomy to lay down its own laws

She is hoping to hold a second independence referendum by the end of 2023 in order to circumvent such issues.

While she has made countless arguments to prove why Scotland should become independent, the 2016 Brexit vote has been a particular focus.

Scotland had the highest vote share for Remain anywhere in the UK (66 percent), but was still forced to exit.

Ms Sturgeon has hinted several times that she would take an independent Scotland back into the EU.

And while the EU as a single entity has not confirmed whether it would welcome Scotland back, Dr Alim Baluch, a professor who specialises in German politics at the University of Bath, said that some member states have used the independence question to “subtly provoke” the UK.

When asked how a new German Chancellor and coalition government might move to ease relations with the UK, he said: “The official message will always be ‘we want to normalise relations with the UK and the friendship with the UK, which is an important NATO partner.'”

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However, he added: “But there is still anger about Brexit under the surface, and it could play out with Scottish independence.

“There’s a degree of schadenfreude when it comes to independence, so Germany may reach out for that.

“We have seen more friendly messages from Spain in recent times, despite the situation with Catalonia.

“After Brexit we saw Spain say, ‘Well if Scottish independence comes legally then we will not stop Scotland from joining the EU, that’s not our job.’

“So we’ve seen a shift where EU members like to provoke the UK in subtle ways.”

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[ANALYSIS] 

In 2018, Josep Borrell, then the Spanish foreign minister, said the country would have no objection to Scotland rejoining the EU as an independent nation so long as it came about legally.

Spain had previously posed a great obstacle for Scotland’s independence hopes ahead of the 2014 vote.

Many feared it would veto the country’s EU membership if it achieved independence.

This is largely a result of Spain’s own struggles with Catalonia’s independence ambitions, with politicians fearing a Scottish success story may fuel separatists on home soil.

Yet, Spain’s government has since changed in both ideology and tact.

Asked if a Pedro Sanchez government — Spain’s socialist leader since 2018 — would accept Scotland’s EU application post-independence, Mr Borrell said: “Why not? If they leave Britain in accordance with their internal regulation, if Westminster agrees…

“If Westminster agrees, why should we be against it?

“I think the United Kingdom will split apart before Spain.”

While no EU top brass has explicitly said they wish Scotland to be a part of the bloc, ahead of Brexit day on January 31, 2020, Brussels’ message was clear.

At the time, Ms Sturgeon posted a photo to social media of the European Commission Building in the Belgian capital with the message “Europe-Scotland” displayed across it, the “o” in Scotland replaced with a love heart.

She tweeted: “The EU Commission building in Brussels tonight (and if you look carefully you’ll see that they do appear to have left a light on for us!)”.

European leaders have since been urged to make a “unilateral and open offer” to Scotland to rejoin the EU should it vote for independence in a future referendum.

A letter was signed by more than 170 prominent cultural figures from across the union earlier this year calling on EU leaders to recognise Scotland’s special position.

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