Sturgeon abandoned bid to rejoin EU after poll showed record level of euroscepticism
Sturgeon slammed by host for 'patronising' education agenda
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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she has no plans to call a separate referendum on whether an independent Scotland should join the European Union. She said a “detailed prospectus” would be put to Scots ahead of any second independence referendum, and she claimed most people would want to be part of the EU again. She was pressed on the issue as she launched the SNP manifesto for the Holyrood election at the end of April.
Ms Sturgeon said: “That’s not my policy.
“Just as in 2014 when people had a detailed prospectus on which to base their vote, that is my intention for a future independence referendum too.”
She insisted the case for independence is “winning hearts and minds across Scotland almost every single day”.
In a surprising turn of events, though, a few weeks later, Mike Russell, the Scottish Constitution Secretary, disputed Ms Sturgeon’s claims, insisting it would depend on the circumstances at the time whether to hold such a vote.
He also claimed it could be “desirable” to ask Scots about rejoining the EU.
Mr Russell, who is also SNP president, said his personal view was it was not necessary but “there are circumstances in which you could say it would be desirable”.
The Scottish Tories said the SNP’s mixed messages showed its EU policy was “shallow and unclear”.
Since Brexit, Ms Sturgeon has indeed given contrasting statements on the issue.
In March 2017, it emerged she was to abandon the SNP’s policy of rejoining the EU immediately amid record euroscepticism in Scotland.
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Just a day after the Scottish First Minister demanded a second vote on independence, senior SNP sources told The Daily Telegraph that Ms Sturgeon wanted to try to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), instead.
They said that Ms Sturgeon saw EFTA membership as a more realistic goal than full EU membership.
Ms Sturgeon reportedly feared that the SNP’s long-standing policy of an independent Scotland joining the EU would have put off the 400,000 voters who backed independence in 2014 but also voted Leave in the EU referendum.
They represented one quarter of all those who voted for independence.
A major survey released at the time also showed that two thirds of Scots either wanted Britain to leave the EU or for the bloc to have reduced powers.
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The Scottish Conservatives said the SNP’s plans had “unravelled within 24 hours” in “total confusion”.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May rubbed salt in the wound by telling the Commons that on her visits to Brussels she “did not detect any support” for an independent Scotland being allowed to join the EU.
Since 2014, eurocrats have given different views on whether Scotland could join the bloc.
In 2016, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, said: “If Scotland decides to leave the UK, to be an independent state, and they decide to be part of the EU, I think there is no big obstacle to do that.”
He added it would be “suicide” for the EU to refuse entry to people who are “sympathetic” to the bloc’s aims.
Moreover, after the Brexit referendum, Mr Verhofstadt wrote on Twitter: “It’s wrong that Scotland might be taken out of the EU, when it voted to stay.
“Happy to discuss with Nicola Sturgeon.”
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Italian MEP Marco Campomenosi claimed the chances of an independent Scotland joining the EU are very low.
However, he revealed how, in order to disrupt internal politics in the UK, Brussels did court Ms Sturgeon at the beginning of the Brexit talks.
He said: “With Scottish independence, Brussels has shown the greatest possible hypocrisy.
“During the withdrawal agreement talks, the former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker was courting the Scottish nationalists, making them believe they were welcome in the EU.
“It was only done to destabilise the UK Government.
“Brussels could not have had the same attitude towards the Catalans because Spain strongly supports the European Commission.
“The hypocrisy would have been so evident that Brussels had to stop engaging with Sturgeon.”
Mr Campomenosi added: “Anyway, there is no way Spain is going to allow the Scots in if they do go independent.”
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