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Fri Jul 15, 2016, 10:59 AM

May says won't trigger EU divorce until UK-wide approach agreed

EDINBURGH, July 15 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday that Britain would not trigger formal divorce talks with the European Union until a "UK approach" had been agreed, bidding to appease Scots who strongly oppose Brexit.

May made the comment after meeting First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, head of the pro-independence Scottish government which says pro-EU Scots should not be dragged out against their will and has been looking at ways to keep Scotland in the bloc...


Ok. So does this mean that, without SNP approval, UK will not trigger the article & leave EU???

20 replies, 3137 views

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Reply May says won't trigger EU divorce until UK-wide approach agreed (Original post)
Ghost Dog Jul 2016 OP
whatthehey Jul 2016 #1
unblock Jul 2016 #4
Ghost Dog Jul 2016 #8
unblock Jul 2016 #2
TubbersUK Jul 2016 #3
Ghost Dog Jul 2016 #9
TubbersUK Jul 2016 #11
Denzil_DC Jul 2016 #5
muriel_volestrangler Jul 2016 #10
Denzil_DC Jul 2016 #13
muriel_volestrangler Jul 2016 #14
Denzil_DC Jul 2016 #15
Matilda Jul 2016 #16
muriel_volestrangler Jul 2016 #17
Denzil_DC Jul 2016 #18
Ghost Dog Jul 2016 #12
LeftishBrit Jul 2016 #6
Denzil_DC Jul 2016 #7
Ghost Dog Jul 2016 #19
Denzil_DC Jul 2016 #20

Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 11:12 AM

1. They are obviously seeking a face-saving way to renege

But I suspect the rest of the EU, who are not so idiotic as to have missed the UK's at best ambivalent commitment to Europe and who know that making Boris Foreign Sec is a studied insult, will not stand for too much dithering. Even if they do find a way to stay in the EU, I see a very cold shoulder being deservedly turned to the UK for quite some time by the community.

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Response to whatthehey (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 11:19 AM

4. i don't think so, at least not yet.

may's in a good position politically if she continues with brexit.

it wasn't her idea, and if the negotiations fall mostly on ministers such as boris, then any blame for problems will fall on those ministers and the eu.

on the other hand, seeking a re-vote or just ignoring a referendum like that is quite risky.

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Response to whatthehey (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 12:32 PM

8. What you say there is accurate,

to my perhaps somewhat jaundiced, very Europeanised eye.

Nb. From the Foreign Sec appointment I surmise that they're expecting the clown to play well alongside a forthcoming Trump US presidency & general nemesis.

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 11:12 AM

2. may needs to determine what scotland needs to get in order to stay in the uk post-brexit.

presuming there's something short of "staying in the eu" that can be given to mollify scotland.

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 11:12 AM

3. Northern Ireland is also a factor presumably,

around 56% voted to remain.

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Response to TubbersUK (Reply #3)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 12:38 PM

9. NI is ancestrally connected with Scotland, more than with England,

as well as with the rest of Ireland & the once-Celtic world.

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Response to Ghost Dog (Reply #9)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 12:51 PM

11. Yes, there are strong historial ties.

Re Brexit, as I understand it:

Sinn Fein supported Remain and the nationalist vote, by and large, went that way.

The Unionist parties campaigned for Brexit, and by and large, unionist supporters voted Out.

There are now sensitivities around the status of the border and the peace process.

Sinn Fein has raised the subject of a referendum on a united Ireland.


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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 11:24 AM

5. Sturgeon, the SNP and the team of experts she's assembled have been way ahead of everybody else

on the diplomacy front and in exploring the options. May would do well to draw on their input, as it may point to possible solutions and approaches that could be adapted to the rest of the UK as well.

Noises from Europe about the prospects for Scotland alone remaining within the EU have been surprisingly encouraging, despite media claims otherwise. See here for a roundup that Andrew Marr has described as "a really useful, indeed essential, piece":

Our Friends In Europa

If your only source of news was the mainstream media, you could be forgiven for thinking that the consensus in the EU regarding an independent Scotland was bleak. Spain would, we’re told endlessly, veto Scotland’s place in the EU out of hand, and so, allegedly, would France.

And when Scotland’s First Minister went to Brussels after the referendum vote to meet with EU officials in regards to Scotland’s membership, we were told that this bold act of outreach fell on deaf ears.

The language of the press was hostile bordering on sadistic. The First Minister, acting to secure the democratic will of the people of Scotland, was apparently “running out of friends” and had to “beg” Ireland to help us out.

The reality, readers will be astonished to hear, is somewhat different.


To answer your question, I've not seen any serious discussion about the need for "SNP approval", no idea of veto for the whole UK as such. More a question of pointing out just how convoluted and un-thought through the whole ramifications are, and whether Scotland can or should be dragged out of the EU against the will of a majority of its voters.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 12:40 PM

10. "Our Friends in Europa" leaves out some important information

For instance, for France it quotes "the president of the Union of Democrats and Independents, the third largest party in France". Big deal. Hollande said "The negotiations will be conducted with the United Kingdom, not with a part of the United Kingdom".

And for Spain it gives a quote from 2012, and an opinion from someone in Britain; but the Spanish PM has just said: "Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union ... Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of United Kingdom. ... I am extremely against it, the treaties are extremely against it and I believe everyone is extremely against it. If the United Kingdom leaves... Scotland leaves."

So that looks clear that the order of events would have to be: UK exits, Scotland splits off, Scotland applies for readmission. And that could have implications for forced adoption for the Euro.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #10)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 02:47 PM

13. "Big deal", indeed!

Last edited Fri Jul 15, 2016, 04:23 PM - Edit history (1)

As things stand at the moment, Hollande has to say that.

Until Article 50's triggered, there aren't supposed to be any negotiations at all. Same goes for any other heads of state, who're observing the protocols. These are soundings that have been taken, along with ones we don't know about. The Scottish government could do that, as it wasn't tied by Cameron's ridiculous stricture on the UK Civil Service that it could think about that might be coming down the pike, but couldn't write anything down (and because our government at Holyrood's not, like, totally dysfunctional ...).

The article doesn't just give a quote from "someone from Britain" (it's actually James Ker-Lindsay of the London School of Economics). It quotes José Manuel Garcia-Margallo (not a Brit?). Rajoy isn't exactly looking like he'll last long in that post anyway at the moment.

Maybe you have a down on the LSE as a whole?

Spain is unlikely to veto an independent Scotland’s EU membership

The Scottish Government has indicated two possible routes to EU membership following a Yes vote on 18 September, under articles 48 and 49 of the current European Treaty. Either route would require unanimity among the 28 Member States. There have been some suggestions that Spain would veto Scotland to avoid creating a precedent for its sub-state nations, most notably Catalonia, where there is widespread demand for holding a referendum on independence on 9 November 2014.

Spain’s veto seems unlikely. José Manuel García-Margallo, Spain’s foreign minister, declined to state that Spain would veto Scottish accession when invited to do so. Instead, the Spanish Government has taken the line that the cases of Catalonia and Scotland are fundamentally different because the UK’s constitutional setting permits referendums on secession while the current Spanish constitution enshrines the indivisibility of the Spanish state and establishes that national sovereignty belongs to all Spaniards.

The Spanish government is trying to make a virtue out of necessity. They would find it politically difficult to oppose an independent Scotland’s membership. As Stephen Tierney and Katie Boyle observe, ‘if the UK Government is prepared to recognise an independent Scotland and work towards its membership of the EU with the cooperation of EU institutions and the overwhelming majority of the other Member States, then it is simply unforeseeable that this would be vetoed by an individual Member State’.

The bottom-line in Spain’s position is that internal UK politics are a matter for the UK. Spain would have no grounds to oppose Scotland’s independence when this prospect is entirely acceptable to the UK government. This is very different to the case of Kosovo, which declared independence unilaterally from Serbia and has therefore not been recognised by Spain. This is not to say, of course, that the admission process will be concluded quickly. There could be delays for administrative and political reasons. García-Margallo has already argued that an independent Scotland would have to join the ‘waiting line and ask for admission’, stressing the difficulties and lengthiness of the process.


Published online by the LSE, but the author, "Dani Cetrà is a Research Fellow at the Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change (SCCC)".

Are you assuming that any individual EU member state could veto Scotland's application? Depends what route it took, and opinions differ:

An independent Scotland would only need majority to join EU, even if Spain wanted to block it, expert reveals


Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott {of Queen Mary University London} said full statehood could be achieved if a majority, rather than a unanimity, of EU members, backed it.


Douglas-Scott said: “If Scotland, whether as successor state or with some other arrangement, wanted to proceed under the umbrella of article 50, it would be looking for a majority, rather than unanimity.

“But if Scotland was looking for recognition as a new independent state, there might be pressure to go to article 49, which is the accession procedure, and that requires unanimity.”

Last night, a Scottish Government source said: “This is an interesting
contribution. Many key players in Europe are indicating they are open to finding a solution for Scotland. And if an independence referendum is the chosen route, then this suggestion, or something like it, may well come into play.”


A second Independence referendum, and not least its timing in relation to the Article 50 negotiations, is certainly among the key options.

As for the currency issue, this was a major stumbling block during the independence referendum, with demands for cast-iron answers to questions that were only going to be answerable if negotiations took place if the vote had been Yes, so we've had it on our minds.

Options at the moment include trying to qualify to join the eurozone (not necessarily compulsory, and in any case requires certain long-term economic conditions to be fulfilled, which could put it on the "pending" pile for quite some time as an aspiration, and not a bar to membership in itself), retaining sterling (nothing the rest of the UK government could do about it as other countries use it without impediment, though we'd obviously be hostage to decisions of its central bank), or reinstating the Scottish pound, or bawbee, or whatever, tied or not to the UK pound (amusingly, you'll get a better exchange rate for Scottish-issued currency at the moment than those notes issued by the Bank of England, though they're nominally the same value). And on a not unrelated note, there have also been noises about reinstating the Scottish Stock Exchange.

The more workable timeline than yours looks like it would be:

Scotland splits off, asks to be treated as an existing or successor EU member state, UK exits.

I don't think anybody - Sturgeon included - relishes the idea of another independence referendum so soon. I'd hoped we'd have another five years or so to get our ducks on a row before we even thought of putting the question to the electorate again, but events have taken over. And opinions are changing rapidly up here, among the media and elsewhere.

This is Nicholas Macpherson, one-time Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, who was very outspoken as a civil servant during the first indyref, breaking the tradition of civil service impartiality because he felt the fabric of the state was at stake:

The case for Scottish independence looks stronger post-Brexit

With the UK leaving the EU, there is a golden opportunity for proponents of Scottish independence to reappraise their economic prospectus. Clearly, membership of the EU will lie at the heart of it. That will enable Scotland to have access to the biggest market in the world without the uncertainties that are likely to face the rest of the UK for many years to come. It would also provide a historic opportunity for Edinburgh to develop further as a financial centre, as London-based institutions hedge their bets on the location of staff and activities. If Royal Bank of Scotland, the state-backed bank, relocates its headquarters as part of that process, that would strengthen the long-term sustainability of the Scottish financial sector.

How quickly an independent Scotland could join the EU is of course highly uncertain. Spain is unlikely to agree to automatic membership because of concerns about secessionist pressures in Catalonia. All the same, the EU has a huge interest in fast-tracking membership for a country whose citizens have been members of the bloc for 43 years and have voted to remain by 62 per cent to 38 per cent. Then there is the question of currency. In the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, the Scottish National party government missed a trick by advocating a unilateral monetary union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK. The Treasury had had enough problems with fixed currency regimes in the 20th century without wanting to enter into one in the 21st. The history of monetary unions teaches us that they require more political integration rather than less — as the eurozone has discovered to its cost.

In any case, an independent Scotland would have no interest in seeking to tie its currency to a country that wishes to put more distance between itself and the EU. It is surely time, therefore, for the Scottish government to commit to creating a Scottish pound supported by its own central bank. That would not preclude the monetary authorities of an independent Scotland from shadowing sterling, just as the Danish central bank shadows the euro.

In the longer term, there could be a case for tying the Scottish pound to the euro. And a long-term commitment to joining the single currency would almost certainly be a requirement of EU membership. But that does not mean Scotland would have to adopt the euro — at least not straight away. Sweden is theoretically obliged to join the single currency. But more than 20 years on from joining the EU, the prospects of its giving up the krona seem vanishingly remote.


Whatever happens, it's going to rely on a lot of goodwill among the existing EU members if we do end up going for remaining/seeking accession. It looks like we have quite a bit of that from what we can tell so far. How that will tie in and suit the rest of the UK (and let's not forget that the London mayor and Gibraltar, among many others, have been in talks with Sturgeon), and any fudge May might end up having offered to her to sell, is anyone's guess at the moment. We might even end up inventing a whole new model of relating to the EU, to go along with the Swiss, Norwegian, or even Icelandic models.

Let's not forget that once you scratch the surface of seemingly monolithic institutions like the UK and its relations with the rest of the world, you have anomalies like the Channel Islands and, not least, the Isle of Man.

"Brexit means brexit" may be a catchy phrase, but there are all sorts of accommodations that are possible. How much diplomatic capital the UK as a whole has in exploring these and tapping in to any residual goodwill - especially given some of May's appointments, which look more like clever party politicking than having an eye on any grand prize - I'm not sure at the moment.

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #13)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 03:14 PM

14. It quotes José Manuel Garcia-Margallo from 2012, before the Scottish referendum, let alone

the EU one. What Rajoy says now is a lot more pertinent than what his foreign minister said 4 years ago, or 2 (if Rajoy goes, so will his foreign minister, of course).

I think it's a fantasy to expect Scottish independence before the UK leaves the EU, or even think it's achievable. Because the Tories don't want it, so they're not going to prioritise it, and it's even more complicated than leaving the EU. There are assets and liabilities to sort out; nationalities to determine; currencies to create, or share; and there's a time limit for leaving the EU, while a break-up of the UK will happen only as fast as the governments can agree to.

Professor Douglas-Scott thinks Scotland could negotiate with EU countries while the UK is negotiating exit; but the EU countries, not just Spain, are already saying they won't do that. Her problem is that they think "internal UK politics are a matter for the UK" and aren't going to start negotiations with one part of the UK while negotiating with the overall government.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #14)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 04:13 PM

15. If we went the Art. 50 route,

what Rajoy said wouldn't really matter a whole lot. No veto.

There's lots of things that have happened in the last few weeks that could have been dismissed as "fantasy" beforehand. It's a brave, brave pundit that would write anything off as a possibility right now.

Me? I'll wait and see.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #10)

Sat Jul 16, 2016, 12:12 AM

16. Correct me if I've got it wrong,

but isn't Spain being a bit self-serving here? If Scotland is allowed to negotiate its future separately from the rest of Britain, that could open the door for the Catalans to negotiate their way out of union with Spain.

Is that the situation?

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Response to Matilda (Reply #16)

Sat Jul 16, 2016, 04:35 AM

17. Yes, it is self-serving. That's how governments will be.

They'll put the interests of their own country, as they see them, before those of other nations.

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Response to Matilda (Reply #16)

Sat Jul 16, 2016, 07:28 AM

18. That was a theory floated for quite a while,

not least in the aftermath of the indyref, when quite a few of the Yes camp made common cause with the Catalans. There is some truth in it, but it's not clear-cut.

But Catalonia's situation's quite different to Scotland's. Rajoy himself has acknowledged this:

... the Spanish Premier, Mariano Rajoy, went to great lengths to discourage comparisons between Scotland and Catalonia, arguing that both cases were ‘absolutely and totally different’. However, Rajoy did wade in on the debate, questioning the validity of the SNP’s position to re-join, not as a new member, but with a treaty amendment using Article 48. He dismissed these claims, instead arguing that a region that voted for independence from a current EU member state would be outside the Union and would have to seek entry via Article 49. In short, they would have to navigate a lengthy accession process to get back in.


Looks like (as long as he lasts in office) he's another who wants to have his cake and eat it. If Scotland secedes and succeeds, it's a different case to Catalonia, so it doesn't set a precedent. Meanwhile, he doesn't want to do anything to encourage drawing the parallels he denies exist.

Of course, Scotland has a few bargaining chips of its own. Spain's fishing fleet is heavily dependent on fish from Scottish waters (it already has to range very far afield to fill its holds), and it's far from clear how that access may change after Brexit.

More on the whole thing, and possible moves to distance Scotland from Catalonia within the EU for Realpolitik reasons here: http://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/scottish-national-party-could-split-from-catalan-allies-in-european-parliament/

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Response to Denzil_DC (Reply #5)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 01:52 PM

12. Options... to secure Scotland’s relationship with the European Union

... Sturgeon welcomed the opportunity to talk to the new prime minister. “I was very pleased that Theresa May said that she was absolutely willing to consider any options that the Scottish government now bring forward to secure Scotland’s relationship with the European Union,” she said...


... Maybe not so much with the other Union, then...

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 12:07 PM

6. Does that mean the same as 'until hell freezes over'?

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #6)

Fri Jul 15, 2016, 12:14 PM

7. LMAO! n/t

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Response to Ghost Dog (Original post)

Sat Jul 16, 2016, 09:11 AM

19. If England’s out, we’re out too. And extremely pissed off... (Deborah Orr)

... Shallow cultural appropriation is all the more annoying when your domineering neighbour has just committed an astonishing act of international political vandalism and roped you in against your wishes.

Scotland’s not-prime minister, Nicola Sturgeon, can talk all she wants about having a second referendum and about Scotland becoming independent and staying in Europe. Indeed, it’s hard to see how Scotland could be denied another referendum before something as constitutionally significant as the triggering of article 50.

But, whatever the result of any second vote, the truth is that the United Kingdom union is not like the European Union.Which is a shame: under arrangements more like the EU, Scotland would have a veto over its confused, angry and irrational neighbour, and could save England from itself. It may come to pass that the “UK approach” May has agreed with Sturgeon will end up tantamount to a veto anyway. But otherwise, all Scotland can do is either suck it up or try to leave the UK while trying to stay in the EU.

Which would just make an insanely complex, expensive and pointless process of Brexit just that little bit more insanely complex, expensive and pointless. The harsh truth is that Scottish independence is less likely, practically speaking, if both Scotland and England don’t remain in the EU. Borders with England? No free movement? Tariffs to trade with our biggest partners, sometimes a dog-walk away? Where’s the logic? If England’s out, we’re out too. And extremely, extremely, pissed off...


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Response to Ghost Dog (Reply #19)

Sat Jul 16, 2016, 11:52 AM

20. A righteous rant, but I think people are in danger of making too much of May's statement,

and the media aren't helping. She actually said:

I won’t be triggering Article 50 until I think that we have a UK approach and objectives for negotiations. I think it is important that we establish that before we trigger Article 50.


It would be lovely to interpret that as "when hell freezes over", or even that little Scotland or another component of the current UK could flex its muscles and make it anything except more awkward and possibly long-winded for Brexit to go ahead if My & Co. are hell bent on doing it. But it doesn't sound to me anything like a veto. The word "think" in there gives May a lot of leeway, because who knows what May may think, now or in the future? A "UK approach" could amount to "We've offered those pesky Scots everything we could, and they're still not happy, now they're just going to have to lump it. Agreed? Good. Pull the trigger."

I don't agree with Orr that moves for Scottish independence during this process would necessarily make "an insanely complex, expensive and pointless process of Brexit just that little bit more insanely complex, expensive and pointless". It might actually simplify matters, depending on how it's done. Vast bodies of laws and treaties, national and international, would need to be amended in either case (and they definitely don't just include Scotland), so there might be economy of time and effort in doing it all at once through some sort of consolidated Act or series of Acts. Otherwise, unless there's the idea that any ambitions for Scottish independence will somehow be buried for ever, the process would no doubt have to be revisited again anyway.

As for things like an armed border between Scotland and England, I was strongly pissed off when Miliband used that as a blatant scare tactic during the indyref. I'm less bothered now. Visiting NI/Ireland, I crossed such a land border quite a few times. It was less scary and intrusive than the armed guards, checkpoints and bus inspections in force in Belfast at the time, or indeed the presence of armed guards at our airports nowadays, let alone outside the nuke facilities up here.

Would I rather not see all this, and all the complications for me visiting family down south and vice versa, our tourists, neighbours living near the border, trade etc.? Of course. But what the hell. I didn't choose any of this anyway.

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