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    No Way Scotland Can Stay in EU If UK Exits the Bloc - Scottish Secretary Mundell

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    There is "no set of circumstances" in which Scotland could stay within the EU when the UK secedes from the bloc, Scottish Secretary David Mundell will inform MPs on February 22, effectively silencing speculation and hope the country could somehow maintain a relationship with the bloc.

    "It's important to be clear — Scotland will not be in the EU at the end of this process. If Scotland's constitutional position were ever to change, it would have to apply to be a member of the EU afresh — and we should not make easy assumptions about the length of time this would take, the process Scotland would have to follow or the terms of membership that may be on offer," Mundell will inform the Scottish Parliament's Europe and External Relations Committee.

    The Scottish National Party (SNP) has long-threatened to hold a second independence referendum. In December, they published a list of demands for Brexit negotiations, which included a pledge to hold a repeat plebiscite if they weren't met.

    Then, Sturgeon said the "best" option for Scotland was full membership of the EU as an independent member state, an option that should be reconsidered by voters if it becomes clear Scotland's interests "cannot be protected in any other way." In the least, Sturgeon suggested, Scotland should seek membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) to maintain its ties with the EU post-Brexit.

    However, in the intervening time, there's been little to suggest the SNP's dreams of preserving a connection with the continent could become reality.

    The party's Brexit proposals were slammed both within and outside of the EU, with Anders Vistisen, a Danish People's Party MEP, calling the plan "unworkable" and "not a realistic solution."

    Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) is greeted by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (R) as she arrives for talks at Bute House, in Edinburgh, on July 15, 2016.
    © AFP 2019 / Lesley Martin
    Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) is greeted by Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (R) as she arrives for talks at Bute House, in Edinburgh, on July 15, 2016.

    In particular, the MEP was skeptical of the paper's claim Scotland could join the EEA by following the the Faroe Islands' blueprint. The Danish archipelago has a population of less than 50,000, and is treated as an "overseas territory" by the EU, whereas Scotland's population of over five million makes it larger than many existing member states. Denmark is also a member of the single market, whereas the UK won't be when it departs. ​

    The report's invocation of the Faroese model was also criticized for failing to mention how long it has taken for the Islands to secure effective membership — the 62-page paper failed to mention the Faroe Islands first applied to join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 2006, and is still not a member as of February 2017. 

    Nevertheless, Mundell's announcement is destined to be extremely unpopular north of the border; in the June 23 referendum, 62% of Scottish electors voted to remain, a 24-point margin, with every single local authority area returning a remain vote — a far higher number than voted to remain part of the UK in 2014. 

    Surveys conducted since Prime Minister Theresa May's stridently pro-Brexit speech in January suggest support for independence is rising in Scotland, with 49 percent of Scots now in favor.

    However, whether a vote will come to pass remains doubtful — in February 2017, the UK government unequivocally stated it would block any move for a second independence referendum. Defense Minister Sir Michael Fallon told Sturgeon to "forget it." 

    Related:

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    'Ill-Thought Out' and 'Unworkable': Sturgeon Post-Brexit Proposals Under Fire
    Brexit Means 'Hard' Brexit: Theresa May Calls for New Global Britain
    UK Gov't Vows to Block Scotland’s Bid for Second Independence Referendum
    Tags:
    union, borders, EU membership, independence referendum, independence, Scottish referendum, Brexit, European Free Trade Association (EFTA), European Economic Area (EEA), Scottish National Party, European Union, Nicola Sturgeon, Europe, Britain, United Kingdom, Scotland
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