No campaign advisor’s EU comments a blow for UK Ministers ahead of Glasgow trip


  By a Newsnet reporter
A planned trip to Glasgow this Friday by UK Ministers William Hague and Danny Alexander in order to attack independence has suffered an embarrassing blow after comments from a senior Better Together advisor undermined key arguments against a Yes vote.
Writing on his blog, Professor Jim Gallagher said that a newly independent Scotland could “surely avoid” being forced to enter the Schengen travel area or join the euro.

The academic, who was unveiled last week by the Better Together campaign as a senior advisor, has also previously said that Scotland’s membership of the EU would be agreed in an “accelerated timetable”.

“For example, it seems pretty likely that Scotland would be an EU member state, probably after an accelerated set of accession negotiations. Precisely what the conditions of membership would be is not quite so clear, though immediate requirements to join the Euro or Schengen agreement can surely be avoided.” He wrote last year.

SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson seized on the new comments, “another Project Fear scare story on independence has turned into Project Farce”, he said.

The embarrassing revelation for the anti-independence camp comes ahead of a trip to Glasgow on Friday by William Hague, the UK government’s foreign secretary, with Treasury secretary Danny Alexander.  Both men are expected to make statements that will attack independence and centre on Scotland’s EU membership.

The trip follows a disastrous last few days for the No campaign which saw the Scottish Government gain the upper hand on the issue of currency after the UK Treasury was forced to concede that a newly independent Scotland could not be forced to accept any of the UK’s £1.4trn of debt.

Professor Gallagher’s position contradicts claims from the No campaign whose leading members have claimed that Scotland would be forced into the euro, into Schengen or face a lengthy application process.

Mr Robertson MP added: “This is the worst possible preview for the anti-independence camp ahead of William Hague’s No campaign trip to Glasgow on Friday.

“On Monday it was the national debt and now it is EU membership.  When Project Fear comes face to face with common sense proposals, the scare stories crumble.

“In Scotland’s Future  – the 670 page guide to an independent Scotland – the Scottish Government sets out a clear route through which Scotland will retain its membership of the EU by negotiating terms between a Yes vote and the date of independence in March 2016.

“It is in no-one’s interests for an attempt to be made to remove EU citizenship from people in Scotland – when everyone accepts we would be welcomed as an independent member.

“The former UK judge to the European Court of Justice, Sir David Edward, says other EU member states have an obligation to negotiate Scotland’s continued membership, and the UK Government’s own legal adviser has said an 18 month timetable is realistic.

“Now we also know Professor Gallagher’s views on this issue, perhaps he can persuade his colleagues in the No campaign to stop peddling their silly scare stories.

“The fact is, the UK Prime Minister is campaigning hard to hold an In/Out referendum on the EU, which could mean Scotland heading out of the EU in 2017 if there was a No vote in the independence referendum – underlining why we need a Yes.

“Last week the Tories were goading the other Westminster parties on this issue, and the Deputy Prime Minister has warned that the Conservatives are flirting with the exit door.

“We have no idea whether the Prime Minister will recommend withdrawal if he can’t renegotiate the UK’s membership terms. So there is no certainty or clarity whatsoever on Scotland’s membership of the EU if there is a No vote in September. That is why it is vital there is a Yes.”