Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

Sturgeon’s secessionist fantasy has been rejected by Europe. So why does she ask Theresa May?

‘Downing Street says the PM is set to rebuff calls for a flexible Brexit, which would allow parts of the UK to have their own arrangement,’ said the BBC radio news this morning. Not quite. This notion has been rejected in Europe, where the idea of doing some kind of separate deal with Scotland or any constituent part of the UK was never a deal. The ‘options’ that the SNP talk about do not exist as far as the EU is concerned: it is a giant bluff. It’s far from clear why she is asking Theresa May for something that the EU has already rejected. 

Even if Theresa May backed Nicola Sturgeon’s absurd plan to keep Scotland in the EU customs union while the rest of the UK left (thereby ensuring tariffs between English and Scottish trade) this would be rejected out of hand in Brussels and for a simple reason. The EU deals with and recognises nation states: it never cuts deals, of any kind, with one part of another country. And for a very good reason. To play Sturgeon’s game would be to stoke secessionist tension elsewhere in Europe. As the Spanish put it: ‘It is clear that if Britain leaves the EU, it leaves in its entirety. If Britain leaves, Scotland and Gibraltar leave as well’. Its Prime Minister said that ‘Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of (the) United Kingdom. I am extremely against it, the treaties are extremely against it and I believe everyone is extremely against it. If the United Kingdom leaves… Scotland leaves.’ France agrees. Francois Hollande has said that: ‘The negotiations will be conducted with the United Kingdom, not with a part of the United Kingdom’.

So the EU cannot and will not do any kind of deal with any part of a former member state.

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