A Scottish Lib Dem MEP has sparked anger after claiming that an independent Scotland would be an “irrelevance in Europe” and would be bulldozed without the ‘protection’ provided by the UK.
MEP George Lyon claimed that the seven EU council votes an independent Scotland would receive would leave the nation “with little clout” compared to the rest of the UK which would go from twenty-nine to twenty-seven votes.
In an extraordinary outburst the Lib Dem MEP boasted that David Cameron’s EU veto had made Germany and France “sit up and listen”, he also claimed that Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy had already “stitched up every deal” in advance of EU treaty talks.
Mr Lyon also questioned whether an independent Scotland would have signed any treaty or whether it would have joined the Euro and added:
“One thing is clear; an independent Scotland would not have the significant clought(sic) held by the UK in the Council of Ministers.
“When the UK wields its veto, even if it is done in a crass and needless way, the big two of Germany and France sit up and listen.
“With only seven votes we would find ourselves unable to stand up to the bulldozer of Merkel and Sarkozy who during the Euro crisis have stitched up every deal in advance of the council meeting and put them on the table on a take it or leave it basis.”
Mr Lyon claimed that Scotland was best served by allowing Westminster to negotiate important opt-outs on our behalf which he claimed secured the “best deal for all communities”.
However the SNP has responded by ridiculing Mr Lyon’s comments as a “boomerang attack” that is at odds with comments from his own party leader.
Aileen McLeod, SNP MSP and member of the European and External Relations Committee said:
“This is a boomerang attack by George Lyon – which underlines exactly why Scotland needs our own voice and votes at the top table in Europe, instead of being misrepresented by the Tories.
“George Lyon is simply parroting the Lib Dems’ Tory masters – when even his own party leader and Deputy Prime Minister believes that the UK’s policy of isolation in Europe spells economic disaster.”
Mr Cameron’s decision to walk out of EU treaty talks was attacked by his Lib Dem coalition partners with Deputy PM Nick Clegg saying it was “bad for Britain”. The Lib Dem leader said he feared that the UK could now become isolated and marginalised within the European Union.
Ms McLeod added:
“When the UK does use its votes in Europe, it regularly does so against Scotland’s vital interests – as our farmers and fishermen will testify. It was a previous Tory Government that was revealed believing that Scottish fishermen were ‘expendable’ against Westminster’s wider objectives in Europe.
“An independent Scotland in Europe will have its own voice at the top table, better able to represent Scotland’s vital interests and negotiate from a position of strength.
“That is a far better prospectus for Scotland than the Lib Dems’ pitiful policy of being led by the nose in Brussels by the Tories.”
Supporters of independence have frequently pointed out that the thirty-four votes made up of seven Scottish votes and twenty-seven from the rest of the UK would allow a stronger voice in areas of common interest.
They also argue that areas where Scotland and England differ would ensure that Scotland could look to other possible alliances that best served our needs and would prevent a situation arising where Scotland’s interests were sometimes treated as an ‘expendable bargaining chip’ as happened in the eighties under Margaret Thatcher.
David Cameron’s use of the veto has been criticised by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones who both claim it has the potential to damage the economies of their respective nations.