EU should do ‘whatever it takes to help an independent Scotland join’


EUROPE should do “whatever it takes” to help Scotland become independent and join the EU – including offering financial support, campaigners argued.

Campaign group Europe For Scotland has said the EU should no longer treat Scottish independence as an “internal matter” for the UK after Brexit.

The call was made by Anthony Barnett (below), co-founder of the group which aims to encourage solidarity for Scotland to rejoin the EU.

He said the group’s job was to recruit ambassadors and lobby Brussels to say Scotland shouldn’t have to go through the usual membership process to join the EU.

However, he said the voices of more Scottish independence supporters were needed to build pressure on Europe to act.

“What I find talking to fellow Europeans is that they say well let’s listen to the Scots, do they want this?” he said.

“They say ‘I’m ready to offer them solidarity but I can’t hear them’.

“If the Scots are sitting there saying it’s not practical, so I won’t say anything, then you are creating the conditions for your own enslavement.”

Barnett, an influential English writer who founded the global website openDemocracy, wrote an introduction to Tom Nairn’s classic text The Break-up Of Britain, first published in 1977, which describes the Kingdom’s ‘slow sinking’ -United.

He told the Sunday National that this split would ‘certainly happen within the next 30 years’ – but argued Scottish independence did not need to be rushed.

“I think it’s quite important to separate the need for independence from the day-to-day issues of Westminster versus Holyrood and Boris Johnson versus Nicola Sturgeon,” he said.

“I think the referendum on independence is approaching, it will be won, but it must be held in due time.”

But he added: “What I think is really important is that the European Union should say now in advance that we want Scotland to be part of the European Union.

“[It should say] we think it’s a scandal that a country that has been part of the European Union for 47 years is withdrawn against its will and we will get it back.

Barnett suggested that Europe should offer Scotland access to its €750 billion Covid recovery fund and support to “cover the costs of separating from England” and for the “creation of ‘a new Scottish currency’.

“[It should say] it will do whatever it takes to make independence a practical and realistic way to join the European Union as a free country. It should be the choice,” he said.

“What Europe For Scotland is saying is that we need to persuade the European Union not to treat independence as an internal issue of the British Isles. Now that Britain is gone, that’s an external question it can answer in advance.

“With Brexit, the European Union passed a motion formally saying that if Northern Ireland wishes to unite with the South, it will immediately become part of the European Union.

“He should now do the same for Scotland. It remains a free choice for the people of Scotland, but they need to know before they make their choice that they will be supported in such an outcome.

Barnett, who was visiting Scotland to promote his new book Taking Control: Humanity And America After Trump And The Pandemic, said Europe For Scotland now has 14,000 members and 50 ambassadors working in countries including France, Germany and Italy.

READ MORE: EU ambassador questions UK’s future, says he’s ‘proud’ of Scottish support for Europe

But he said more pressure was needed to urge EU leaders to say Scotland will not have to go through the same membership process.

He said: “Scotland should be treated differently – it’s not Macedonia. He was a member [of the EU] for 47 years. No one else is in this position, eliminated against their will. It is therefore a reasonable argument to be treated exceptionally.

Barnett said Europe’s position on allowing Scotland to join needed to be clarified before the next independence referendum.

“The problem is that if you have a referendum without it, the Anglo-British, including on the left, will be incredibly threatening,” he said.

“They will threaten the enormous economic consequences of the border, they will threaten economically, they will tell you that the European Union is going to fuck you.

“If the European Union doesn’t say anything, the Scots will say ‘well, maybe it’s true. Is it true, is it not true? What a risk to take with my job, my livelihood.

He called on pro-independence supporters to “take the initiative” and urged Europe to state its position.

“I think the independence movement is too important to be left to Nicola Sturgeon,” he added.

“It shouldn’t be left to the SNP and we need to hear the demand and desire for independence within Europe from inside Scotland.”

Barnett said Scottish independence was a “historic choice” and should not be postponed – but supporters should not be “eager” either.

‘Don’t look at it through the eyes of London, which somehow serves to subordinate Scotland to undermine independence as a mindset, if you think it’s just about leaving the regime of Westminster,” he said.

“It is also about becoming yourselves within a European framework and you should consider Europe as the framework for becoming independent.”

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