Madrid, Spain. Scottish independence leader Nicola Sturgeon’s vision for an independent Scotland in the European Union received a major boost yesterday when Spain’s foreign minister ruled out blocking the plan.
Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said he is opposed to the brexit of the UK but would not veto Scotland’s membership of the EU if there was a Yes vote in a future independence referendum.But when asked if he would veto a separate Scotland joining the EU, Dastis said, “No, we wouldn’t.” The comments came amid a tense diplomatic standoff between the UK and Spain over the future of Gibraltar.
Spain has long opposed Scottish independence because it fears this would give a boost to separatists in Catalonia, who are also campaigning to become a breakaway state.
In his comments Dastis did stress a separate Scotland would have to apply for EU membership and suggested it risked spending a long time outside the union waiting to join. Dastis stated, “We don’t want Scottish independence to happen but if it happens legally and constitutionally, we would not block it.”
Before the 2014 referendum, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy had said Scottish independence would be a disaster that would risk the break-up of the EU.
But the vote to remain in the EU by a majority of voters in Scotland and deteriorating relations with the UK Government appear to have softened the Spanish stance.
“We don’t encourage the break-up of any member states because we think the future goes in a different direction.” Dastis said.
The SNP’s Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins took it a step further adding, “We can be now absolutely clear there is no intention of a Spanish veto over Scotland’s EU membership.”