Scotland politics

EU open to 'different' Scotland position, says SNP's Smith

MEP Alyn Smith speaking at the European Parliament in Brussels. 28 Jun 16 Image copyright PA
Image caption Alyn Smith urged fellow MEPs in Brussels: "Do not let Scotland down now"

A leading Scottish National Party politician, Alyn Smith MEP, says there is a recognition in Brussels that "Scotland is looking for something different" in relations with the EU.

"Brussels people do know there is a plurality of interests in the UK," he told the BBC in a phone interview.

"It's not a separate track, but... we reserve the right to do what we need to do, to speak to whoever we need to."

But he acknowledged that the UK could overrule Scottish wishes over Brexit.

Scotland does not have veto power to block UK withdrawal from the EU.

But under the Sewel Convention, Westminster is supposed to get Scottish consent to any UK legislation affecting Scotland's affairs.

Scottish voters backed remaining in the EU by a margin of 62% to 38% in June's referendum, while the UK as a whole voted by 52% to 48% to leave.

Various options

Mr Smith is one of two SNP politicians in the European Parliament and is on an expert panel advising the Scottish government about EU relations.

He said the SNP government was examining the EU's separate arrangements with various territories belonging to other EU member states. Among them are the Aland Islands (Finland), Faroes (Denmark) and Guadeloupe (France).

"Collectively, they demonstrate that a flexibility exists if there is political goodwill and a desire to find a solution," he said.

When asked if Scotland could stay in the EU despite Brexit, he said: "It depends what you mean by 'stay in'."

"European status, engagement, involvement could be as part of a member state, or a territory with a different relationship," he said.

"We are looking at all the options - independence is on the table of course, so we're looking at all options up to and including that."

Mr Smith is standing as deputy leader of the SNP alongside the party's Westminster leader Angus Robertson and Tommy Shepherd, the SNP MP for Edinburgh East.

The current deputy leader, Stewart Hosie, has said he will step down in the autumn.

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