Let Scotland back in! Open letter from 170 public figures calls for EU to back rejoin bid
Nicola Sturgeon is 'hiding' behind independence says guest
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Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously urged Brussels to “leave a light on” for Scotland after 62 percent of Scots voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. She also reiterated her government’s commitment to a “legal, constitutional route to becoming an independent state”.
Ahead of the Holyrood election next week, 170 figures – including actor Brian Cox, historian Adam Tooze and Italian novelist Elena Ferrante – all signed a letter to let Scotland rejoin the EU.
The letter – organised by Europe for Scotland group – acknowledged they do not know the “short and long-term” costs of an independent Scotland.
But they demanded the EU “support Scotland’s budget” in the “challenging” transition period if the country rejoins the bloc.
The letter read: “No one knows the short and long-term costs of Brexit for Scotland, nor those linked to breaking away from the UK – including issuing a new currency if the Scots so wish (whether or not they eventually join the euro).
“In light of this, generous terms should be offered to support Scotland’s budget in the challenging months of the transition before rejoining the EU.”
The letter went on to say how the Scottish government cannot negotiate with the EU while it is part of the UK but urged the bloc to declare that Scotland should be ‘legally and democratically independent’.
It continued: “While it is legally part of the UK, the Scottish government cannot negotiate with the EU.
“But the EU can declare that, because Scotland has already long been part of the EU, should it become legally and democratically independent, it need not apply as a ‘new’ accession candidate.
“Instead, the EU and its member states should make a unilateral and open offer of membership – an exceptional proposal to match Scotland’s exceptional circumstances.”
The letter referenced the EU’s promise that Northern Ireland would become part of the bloc immediately if it ever voted on the future to join the Republic of Ireland.
The letter went on to say how Europeans must “always stand for democracy and solidarity” and urged the EU to “support Scotland’s democratic choice about its future”.
One of the letter’s organisers, the writer and co-founder of openDemocracy, Anthony Barnett, said: “We want to shift the narrative from the negative spirit of Brexit to one of positive solidarity.
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“Scotland – where every region voted remain – must not be left on its own by Europe while being subjected to bullying by the UK government.
“Instead, we want the Scots to know they are supported across Europe, including in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
Ms Sturgeon is set to call for a second independence vote if she secures a majority in next week’s election.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, however, said he would reject any calls after the Scottish public voted to remain part of the UK in a “once in a lifetime” vote back in 2014.
A recent report by the Institute for Government (IfG) said Scotland’s divorce from the UK could last longer than the five years it took for Britain to leave the EU.
The report also made clear Scotland could only formally apply to join the EU once it had secured its independence from the UK, suggesting the “whole process could take the best part of a decade.”
Akash Paun, a senior fellow at the institute and co-author of the report, said: “Scotland was taken out of the EU against the will of a majority of its citizens.
“So it is understandable that many Scottish voters now want the opportunity to vote again on independence so that Scotland could then rejoin the EU.
“That is a choice for Scotland to make.
“But it should make that choice in the knowledge that it will not be able to maintain open borders with both the EU and with the rest of the UK.”
The report also found a hard border would have to be put in place with England and Scotland would likely have to join the eurozone.
This is a huge blow for the SNP who wish to retain the pound immediately after independence.
The report added: “As an EU member state, Scotland would have no choice but to enforce customs processes, as well as regulatory checks on goods such as animal and plant product.
“There would be a need for new border infrastructure to enforce these rules.
“For the first time in more than three centuries, England and Scotland would find themselves on either side of a hard economic border.”
Ms Sturgeon has been widely criticised for focussing on a second vote on independence rather than the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
While taking questions from audience members during the first leaders’ debate, Ms Sturgeon was criticised for prioritising independence over Covid crisis.
Earlier this month, Ms Sturgeon claimed Prime Minister Boris Johnson cannot oppose a second independence referendum if the SNP wins a majority in the Holyrood elections in May.
Scotland will go to the polls on May 6.
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