There is much talk in Scotland about how the SNP administration will deal with the result of the EU referendum – Nicola Sturgeon is hinting heavily at trying to get Westminster to agree to a second independence referendum.
Sources all around are hinting heavily that she’s saying that to keep things calm, but won’t actually be going through with it. Most oddly of all, she has been suggesting that Scotland might have a go at somehow having the best of everything (or the worst of everything – depends how you look at it) by staying both in the EU and the UK.
That’s a tempting proposition for the Scots – after all, it is what most say they voted for in the last independence referendum (although, given that the EU referendum was already on the table, they would have known there was a risk they wouldn’t get it). Unfortunately it just isn’t possible.
The European Commission has made it very clear that the “part of the member state… would not itself be a sovereign state”, and that it “would never have been a formal member of the EU as a sovereign state, so it could be argued that it cannot therefore ‘remain’ in the EU if the member state itself withdraws”.
So there you have it. Scotland can’t be part of both unions if the UK is out of the EU. And it can’t vote for independence before the UK leaves the EU and get itself in that way. The only way into the EU before Brexit, then, would be to have a referendum, find a way to fudge all the hard questions on currency (the pound is definitely not an option now) and borders, and then manage to complete both the separation deal with the UK and the accession deal with the EU during the time in which the EU is negotiating the UK exit under Article 50.
All possible, of course, but I suspect even Nicola Sturgeon might find it all a bit rushed. To say nothing of a bit risky.