Blog: Brexit ‘shatters Scotland’s EU ambitions’ as Salmond urges Sturgeon to act – Express

The former First Minister has urged his successor Nicola Sturgeon to abandon her efforts to bring Scotland into the EU, and should instead focus on the European Free Trade Association (Efta). This agreement brings countries into the European single market and Schengen immigration zone, without them actually joining the EU. It currently includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

He said to the BBC “the world has changed”.

The former SNP leader said: “Back in 2014 in the Yes side, the independence side, envisaged Scotland and the rest of the UK as independent countries, being two partners within the context of the European Union.

“Brexit has happened and that has implications for the case for independence.

“It has advantages for the case for independence because the outlook for the UK is dismal.”

He added there was a need to “come up with the argument for what it means for borders and how you will approach Europe to get back into the EU in a reasonable time”.

The independence campaigner also insisted Scotland can hold another independence referendum even without permission from Westminster, as it did in 2014 through a “Section 30 order”.

Mr Salmond went on to criticise Ms Sturgeon’s Government for “substantial problems in policy performance”, but added her failings paled next to “the incompetence and corruption at Westminster”.

Philippa Whitford MP, the SNP’s Europe spokeswoman, said: “The recent OECD forecast was a devastating indictment of the Tories’ Brexit policies and another example of the heavy price people across Scotland are paying for continued Westminster control.”

Ms Sturgeon was recently compared to Rod Stewart for her failure to materialise the Scottish Independence vote, as she became the longest-serving First Minister.

Writing for the New Statesman, Chris Deerin wrote: “The music writer Greil Marcus argued that “rarely has a singer had as full and unique a talent as Rod Stewart; rarely has anyone betrayed their talent so completely”.

“There will be those who applied a similar analysis to Nicola Sturgeon this week as she became Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister.”

Global events have had a significant impact on the SNP’s delay of the referendum, with their website explicitly stating it would be held off until after the COVID pandemic.

It restates the drive to hold the vote however, adding: “After the SNP decisively won the 2021 election and there is an increased pro-independence majority, there can be no moral or democratic justification for Boris Johnson or any Westminster Government to obstruct the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future.”

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Meanwhile a poll by Savanta ComRes published on 18 March found that 59 percent of Scots believed discussions about the timing of a second referendum should be put on hold due to the Russian war on Ukraine, including 43 percent of SNP voters.

Fifty-two percent felt that the cost-of-living crisis also justifies a halt.

However, research by YouGov for The Times suggested voters are no more inclined to break up the UK in 2022 than they were when Sturgeon came into office.

When “don’t knows” are excluded from the latest poll, 55 per cent continue to back the Union while 45 per cent favour Scottish independence — the same result as the 2014 referendum.

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John Swinney, the deputy First Minister, said Sturgeon can look back on her “landmark achievement” of becoming the longest-serving first minister with pride and that she has laid the groundwork for an independent Scotland.

He said: “As the country’s first female leader, her tenure has helped make Scotland a better, fairer country for all who live here.”

Meanwhile SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes restated the SNP’s desire to hold an independence referendum, saying: “In terms of the referendum, the mandate is there, the legislation is coming forward, and I don’t see in the medium term how that can be sustainable for the British Government to continue to say no to it.

“I think she is a steady ship, she has been able to ensure the people of Scotland trust not just her but her Government, which was re-elected, and has now enabled her to get on with the job in hand which is delivering an independence referendum.”

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