00:07 GMT26 January 2021
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    In 2014, Scotland voted to remain within the UK in what was called a “once in a generation” referendum. Since that time, Edinburgh has been demanding a second vote on independence, citing Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union. In the 2016 Brexit referendum, a small majority of Scots voted again to stay in the bloc.

    The shadow of Brexit looms large over Britain, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear that Scotland wants to be reunited with the European Union. Sturgeon issued a passionate plea to the EU at an SNP Party Conference, declaring that, "Scotland will be forced against our will to a much more distant relationship with our friends across the European Union. To the other countries of the EU, Scotland wants to return. And we hope to do so soon, as an independent member state."

    The First Minister’s appeal to Brussel’s comes after the SNP claimed that Scotland’s interests were being ignored by the British government during Brexit negotiations, saying that they would not hesitate to deal directly with Michel Barnier. The purported suggestion has allegedly caused Cabinet Minister Michael Gove to claim that the SNP is trying to undermine the government and disrupt negotiations. Sputnik spoke with political commentator Mitch William about why the SNP wants to rejoin the EU and whether the move will be an unwanted distraction for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

    Sputnik: Have Scotland's interests been ignored during Brexit negotiations?

    Mitch William: Well the SNP has floated the idea that Scotland should remain, and things, such as the single market and the customs Union, these things are impossible initiatives, and only designed to create division. It's in the UK’s interest to look after Scotland, and the UK government is being focused on a strategy that will get the best deal for the whole of the UK. Every so often, the SNP demands something that is pretty much impossible to deliver. And then, they will pitch it as the UK government is not looking after them.

    Sputnik: Why does the SNP wish to rejoin the EU?

    Mitch William: The SNP are only nationalists when it comes to England and the United Kingdom. They don't want independence; they want an EU Commissioner. If they were sincere in their cause for independence, I wouldn't support them, but I’d have more respect. The turnout in Scotland for the EU referendum was 67%. In my view, 62% of 67% isn't convincing enough. They want to walk on the world stage in the safety of the European Union for projecting the myth of independence through a barrage of manipulative rhetoric.

    Sputnik: Is SNP direct contact with the EU detrimental to Brexit discussions, as Michael Gove claimed earlier this week?

    Mitch William: Of course it's detrimental, as the SNP shouldn't be having any such discussions with the European Union. They've met with the EU negotiators, and are promoting the idea that the UK fishing industry is happy with the EU's common fishing policy, at the same time when there is a deadlock on that very issue in the negotiations. This is most unhelpful to the UK negotiating team. It's essentially a divide and conquer, they'll actively work against any UK government policy and, in a way that they can, which, for me, is a total embarrassment.

    Scotland's First Minister and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon makes a speech during the SNP Spring Conference, in Aberdeen, Scotland
    © AP Photo / Andrew Milligan/PA
    Scotland's First Minister and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon makes a speech during the SNP Spring Conference, in Aberdeen, Scotland

    Sputnik: Would you agree with the assertion that the SNP is trying to undermine the British government?

    Mitch William: At every turn and at every possible opportunity. That's their whole reason for existence. They voted against the UK internal market bill, not that long ago. They've been speaking to the European Union, with contrary ideas to the UK negotiating position. Their whole reason for existence is to undermine the British government. They were defeated in 2014, however, Brexit has been a gift for them, and COVID has given them an enhanced campaign platform, which they are using to their advantage.

    Sputnik: Is this an unwanted distraction for Boris Johnson as Brexit talks continue this week?

    Mitch William: The SNP will always be an unwanted distraction for the UK government and Boris Johnson. That's their whole purpose; it will only ever go away once they are defeated. And obviously with Boris and his devolution, comments etc., the pressure is on them, and it's a problem that he just doesn't need at this point in time. But it won't go away, because that's their sole purpose.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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