Ian Blackford grilled on Scottish border amid independence talk
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Times Radio’s host Carole Walker put Ian Blackford on the spot over the issue of trade with the United Kingdom if Nicola Sturgeon were to obtain independence for Scotland and have it rejoin the European Union. In that case, Scotland would technically have to set up an international border with the rest of the UK – just like Northern Ireland does now over Brexit. Ms Walker insisted on the problems Northern Ireland has been facing amid opposition to the Irish Sea checks border put in place as a result of Brexit.
Ms Walker began by asking Mr Blackford: “So then how are you going to deal with the border between Scotland and the rest of the UK?”
Ms Walker continued: “We’ve seen the immense problems that there have been in Northern Ireland in sorting out those arrangements.
“If you re-joined the European Union, you would be a part of the Single Market. There would have to be checks on goods as we’ve seen at the Northern Ireland ports. What are you going to do?
“Set up a border between Scotland and the rest of the UK and have checks to make sure that the correct tariffs are paid and so on? Because that is what the EU has been insisting on, that is why we’ve got these huge problems in Northern Ireland.”
Ian Blackford said: “But of course, the problems of Northern Ireland could have been averted if the UK government had taken a compromise position, which was staying in the single market and the customs union.”
Ms Walker interjected: “But we’re outside the single market in the UK at the moment.”
“Well, I’m trying to answer your question,” said Mr Blackford. “So, we all want to see a resolution to the challenges which are there between the United Kingdom and the island of Ireland.
“And I hope we can have consensus. And let’s not forget that in this whole debate what we are trying to do is have a referendum based on legal certainty. What we’re faced with in the UK is a UK government that’s breaking its international obligations.”
Mr Blackford continued: “And let’s not forget, it’s Boris Johnson that signed up to the deal that we have with the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Look, at the end of the day, there has to be a way that they can get through that? And that will signpost to some extent what we could do with an independent Scotland. But over the course of the coming months, we will answer all these questions fully as we come up with a number of independence papers.
“But my goodness, what an opportunity that will be for us to be able to get back to trade normally with the 27 other members of the European Union, to benefit from the Erasmus scheme and so on.”
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Nicola Sturgeon has pressed ahead with a second Scottish independence referendum but has faced some headwinds, as Boris Johnson has ruled out a section 30 order – a prerequisite to legally hold a referendum in Scotland. Without the powers to hold one, Nicola Sturgeon could see her IndyRef2 dream shattered.
Instead of relying on Westminster’s consent, she has turned to the UK Supreme Court and asked for a ruling on IndyRef2’s legality.
If she gets the green light, Scotland’s second independence referendum will take on 19 October 2023.
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