Sturgeon ‘behaving like a dictator’ says expert
Had Britain joined the EEA Scotland could have left the UK, and joined the EU, without requiring a hard-border with England. However because of Mrs May’s decision, and Boris Johnson’s new Brexit trade deal, this is no longer possible.
If Scotland swaps the UK for the EU border checks will be required on trade and travel with England risking serious economic disruption.
EEA members form part of the European single market and continue to apply EU internal market rules, including on free movement.
Some former Remainers pushed for Britain to join the EEA after Brexit which would have meant a very close relationship with the EU.
According to Institute for Government (IFG) analysis if the UK joined the EEA “an independent Scotland might still have been able to join the EU without customs checks and major risks of economic dislocation on the border”.
Theresa May’s refusal to join the EEA may hit the SNP’s independence bid
The SNP fell one short of a Scottish parliament majority last week
The IFG found Scotland trades three times as much across the English border as it does with the entire EU.
Despite not being EU members Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein are part of the EEA.
This means they retain very close relations with Brussels which is able to make some of their laws.
Ms Sturgeon is demanding a second referendum on independence following last week’s Scottish parliament elections.
Theresa May with Sturgeon when she was prime minister
The SNP fell short of a majority by one seat, but can expect to get another referendum bill through Holyrood with Green support.
Mr Johnson has urged Ms Sturgeon to focus on Scotland’s coronavirus recovery rather than constitutional issues.
The Scottish Conservatives argue Ms Sturgeon doesn’t have a mandate for a referendum, as pro-UK parties got more constituency votes in total than nationalist ones.
Katy Hayward, from Queen’s University Belfast, admitted a hard border with England would be a major challenge for an independent Scotland.
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Britain formally left the EU in January 2020
The next Scottish parliament was elected last week
Writing for the Scottish Centre for European Relations she said: “As was the case for the Irish border for much of the twentieth century, controls along the Scottish land border would be a challenge to design and administer.
“They would require new systems of cooperation and communication (including to facilitate and process customs declarations), new infrastructure (e.g. facilities for veterinary inspections), new recruits for border management (among whom customs inspectors are but the tip of the iceberg), and new rules for traders to comply with if they wish to move goods across Scotland’s borders.”
Earlier this year Ms Sturgeon suggested Scotland will apply for EU membership if it votes to leave the UK without holding a separate referendum.
However Scotland’s budget deficit is currently eight times the limit required to join the EU.
Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in 2014
This means stringent spending cuts or tax rises may be required before Scotland meets the qualifications.
Scotland would have to pledge to adopt the Euro as its currency if it wants EU membership.
It would also have to re-join the EU’s common fisheries policy, handing control over its fishing waters to Brussels.
Any existing EU member state could veto Scotland’s application and some, like Spain, have their own separatism movements.
The Scottish Tories argue there is no mandate for indyref2
However SNP MP Alyn Smith argued Spain is unlikely to deploy its veto.
Speaking to RTE he said: “So long as this is an agreed, constitutional route, which is our preference too, I don’t envisage significant difficulties with Spain.
“They also recognise European solidarity, the way we’ve treated Spanish nationals in Scotland, as opposed to the way they’re treated in the UK.”
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed