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EU’s chief Brexit negotiator agrees with Nicola Sturgeon that independent Scotland would gain automatic entry

FORMER Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt has been appointed to co-ordinate the European Parliament’s response to the UK’s bombshell departure.
Guy Verhofstadt
Guy VerhofstadtGuy Verhofstadt, chair ALDE (The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) group in European Parliament


AN independent Scotland’s chances of automatic EU entry got a massive boost yesterday as a big supporter of the move was made a chief Brexit negotiator.

Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, 63, will co-ordinate the European Parliament’s response to the UK’s vote to leave.

He has previously said an independent Scotland should be let into the EU straight away.

Verhofstadt added: “If Scotland decides to leave the UK, to be an independent state, and they decide to be part of the EU, I think there is no big obstacle to do that.”

He said it would be “suicide” for the EU to refuse entry to people who are “sympathetic” to the EU’s aims.

Verhofstadt was also supportive of Scotland’s vote to remain in the EU following June’s referendum.

“It’s wrong that Scotland might be taken out of EU, when it voted to stay. Happy to discuss with Nicola Sturgeon,” he tweeted on June 24 after the result.

Guy Verhofstadt with Nicola Sturgeon


He later met the First Minister in Brussels.

Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal group in the parliament, has also been critical of British politicians who backed Brexit.

In June, he tweeted that “Boris Johnson is ready to sacrifice the voice of 17m Britons to become PM of UK, or rather PM of England and Wales.”

SNP MEP Alyn Smith last night said Verhofstadt’s appointment meant “all the doors we need are open”, adding: “It’s good news – we can do business.

“He is a long-standing respected MEP. Having negotiated Belgian politics, he’ll be able to corral 27 national interests and be pragmatic about solutions. He’s also proven he’s alive to the Scottish question.

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“Guy has been a friend to Scotland in the aftermath of the EU referendum, stating publicly that it was wrong for Scotland to be taken out of the EU when we voted to stay, and making sure our First Minister knew he was happy to meet with her to discuss this further.

“He’s a clever chap, very astute, and a hard worker capable of seeing the big picture.”

Professor Michael Keating of Aberdeen University also said it was good news for Scottish nationalists but warned there would still be “hostility” from other forces within the EU.

He told the Record: “Within Brussels and around the European Parliament there are different attitudes towards Scotland.

Verhofstadt with George W Bush while Belgian Prime Minister


“Some, such as the Spanish Government for example, take a very hostile position, some are more sympathetic and some just don’t really understand the complexities of the situation in Scotland.

“Verhofstadt is certainly somebody who takes an interest in Scotland and is more sympathetic, but that does not change the rules of the game.”

Verhofstadt said it was an “honour” to take the role “which will play a central role in an Article 50 deal and any future EU-UK agreements”.

The European Parliament will be one of several institutions involved in the Brexit negotiating process.

A parliament spokeswoman said: “Any agreement would have to be approved by both the European Parliament and the Council.”

The appointment comes after the appointment of Michel Barnier, the former French foreign minister, as the chief negotiator on behalf of the European Commission.

Last night Sturgeon repeated her determination to keep independence an option during the Brexit negotiations.

She told a dinner of independence supporters: “The old arguments about the UK providing stability and security for Scotland are now utterly redundant.

“The uncertainty and the threat to jobs and investment are happening right now under the union.

“Westminster are the architects of uncertainty. And that is why it is absolutely right that we keep the option of independence on the table if it becomes clear that our place in Europe – with all that it entails for jobs, investment and prosperity – simply cannot be protected within the UK.”

https://www.google.com/url?rct=j&sa=t&url=http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/eus-chief-brexit-negotiator-agrees-8796253&ct=ga&cd=CAEYCioTNDU4MDk2MTg4ODg3ODE3NDMzMTIcMDQxNGI3YTJkZTExYzk3NDpjby51azplbjpHQg&usg=AFQjCNF-GxPUWynrYbZIzUfMbi_DQLi94g

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