Tags: Scotland | UK | EU

Scotland Independence Debate Heads to European Union

Image: Scotland Independence Debate Heads to European Union

Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 10:24 PM

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond is set to outline an independent Scotland’s role in the European Union, while the U.K. government said he should first ensure the country could afford to join the bloc.

In a speech in the Belgian city of Bruges, Salmond was to talk about Scotland’s contribution to the EU and his vision of Europe, the Scottish government in Edinburgh said in a statement. In a letter to the nationalist leader, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said he should use the trip to clarify Scotland’s financial commitments on pensions and agriculture and whether it could afford to lose current U.K. opt-outs such as having to sign up to joining the euro.

Less than five months before a Sept. 18 referendum in Scotland on breaking away from the 307-year-old U.K., Salmond is taking his nationalist message outside the country. Last week, he sought to reassure people in the north of England that independence would be more beneficial than disruptive.

While the status quo remains more popular with voters, a string of polls this month showed public support for the U.K. government-backed campaign to preserve the U.K. was losing ground. A survey by ICM Research published in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper on April 20 showed support dropped to 42 percent from 46 percent, while the proportion of voters saying they would opt for independence was unchanged at 39 percent.

The independence debate intensified since the three main U.K. political parties united to say on Feb. 13 that they would block Salmond’s plan for a currency union with the rest of Britain. They also have said Scotland’s place in the EU was at risk, with the new sovereign state having to embark on lengthy re-negotiations with the 28 member countries.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander this week meanwhile will challenge the nationalists over their “over- optimistic assumptions” on North Sea oil revenue and how the country would pay for its aging population.

The speech in Edinburgh scheduled for April 30 follows a trip north by opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who led two days of events to campaign for the union at the weekend.

Labour, which holds a majority of the U.K. parliamentary seats in Scotland, has supported Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s rejection of plans by the Scottish nationalists to share the pound should they win the vote and reinforced warnings on debt and the economy.

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Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond is set to outline an independent Scotland’s role in the European Union, while the U.K. government said he should first ensure the country could afford to join the bloc.
Scotland, UK, EU
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2014-24-27
Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 10:24 PM
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