29 Jun, 2016
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ahead of a meeting at the EC in Brussels, Belgium, June 29, 2016 © Eric Vidal / Reuters
Scotland’s hopes of remaining in the EU after Brexit have hit a major hurdle after Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he will block any negotiations between Brussels and Edinburgh.
Speaking as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrived in Brussels, the Spanish PM said he was “extremely against” the idea of Scotland talking with EU officials in the wake of Brexit.
His warning came after EU member states snubbed Sturgeon on her visit, describing the question of Scotland joining the EU as an “internal” British issue.
Of all the EU member states, Spain is most resistant to Scotland entering into dialogue with the EU. Madrid is strongly against Scottish succession from the UK due its own fears of Catalonia becoming an independent state.
Rajoy, who is acting prime minister, said bluntly “if the UK goes, Scotland goes too.”
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) June 26, 2016
“I want to be very clear, Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union. 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 everyone is against it. If the United Kingdom leaves….Scotland leaves.”
Representatives from Germany, Denmark, Estonia and the Czech Republican declined to meet with Sturgeon during her visit to Brussels.
Berlin told the Glasgow Herald this is an “internal” British issue, while Denmark said it “will not intervene in internal UK discussions following the referendum last week.”
Only Slovakia suggested it would engage in bilateral talks, saying it appreciated Scotland’s pro-EU attitude.
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) June 29, 2016
Despite these rejections, Sturgeon will meet with European Parliament President Martin Schulz and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during her trip, which comes on the second day of an emergency Brexit summit.
Juncker had originally said he was too busy to see Sturgeon, but the two will now meet Wednesday evening.
The Scottish first minister has established a “standing council” of experts to provide her with advice following last week’s Brexit vote.
Sturgeon has said she is “utterly determined” to ensure Scotland’s relationship with the EU is protected.