Sturgeon’s bluff unveiled as SNP called for referendum on EU treaty before Brexit

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The Scottish First Minister has said she does not plan to hold a referendum on EU membership if Scotland becomes independent. It is therefore assumed that Scottish people want an independent Scotland to join the EU, effectively making indyref2 a double referendum, with a vote for independence taken as a vote in favour of EU membership as well. Speaking at a media briefing after the SNP manifesto launch earlier this year, the SNP leader said holding another referendum on EU membership was “not my policy”.

In terms of timing for Scotland re-joining the EU, Ms Sturgeon said she would begin discussions with the EU around the time of any independence vote.

She said she was not “going to put a number of years” on the time it would take for an independent Scotland to become a member, but insisted there were “many voices” who did not think it would be a lengthy period.

The SNP has not always been so pro-Europe, though.

In 2005, the European Commission and the European Council were pushing for a European Constitution.

However, voters in France and the Netherlands strongly rejected it in two respective referendums.

Despite the strong opposition in the member states, eurocrats ignored the results and the European Constitution was subsequently rebranded as the Lisbon Treaty.

The new treaty dropped elements of the constitution such as an EU flag and anthem, but it was regarded as a repackaged constitution.

In 2007, the Conservative Party, a group of Labour MPs and the SNP were pushing for the referendum promised by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown Brown before its general election victory in 2005.

The SNP claimed the treaty was bad for Scotland because it would have enshrined Brussels control over fishing in law.

They had long opposed the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which sets quotas and said the treaty would have made it harder to change.

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SNP MP Angus Robertson said at the time: “We’ll trust the people while Gordon Brown will not trust the people.

“We are honour-bound to support a referendum.”

In the end, the treaty passed in the UK without a plebiscite on December 13, 2007.

A year later, former SNP MEP Ian Hudghton criticised the failure to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty during a key debate on the issue at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The MEP also slammed the decision to hand more control over fisheries policy to Brussels.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Hudghton said: “I fully accept that it is necessary, in a European Union of 27 member states, to update the working rules and arrangements which operated in a Union of 15. I also accept that much of the content, such as the increase in powers of this Parliament and opening up the Council decision-making process, is positive and sensible.

“But looking at the details, from my viewpoint as a representative of Scotland, I have serious concerns about some imperfections which Commissioner Wallstrom acknowledged. Much is made of the new right of ‘national’ parliaments to intervene. But this does not apply to the devolved ‘national’ Parliament of Scotland, or other stateless nations.

“The Treaty process failed to address the issue of a single seat for the European Parliament, leaving us with the indefensible situation of trekking between Brussels and Strasbourg.

“I cannot support the inclusion of the Common Fisheries Policy as one of only four ‘exclusive competences’ of the Union, listed in the Treaty.”

He added: “This, I fear, could seriously impede progress towards radical change in the management of Fisheries, by preserving the over-centralised failure which the CFP has become. This is particularly incongruous following the December Fisheries Council, which took a tentative step towards decentralisation when it recognised voluntary measures being implemented by Scotland, and gave us an element of local control this year.

“My party favoured a referendum on the Constitution. This Treaty may have a different legal status, but in substance, it is the same. The SNP is simply being consistent by supporting a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. We are not afraid of a public debate on Europe.

“On the contrary, forging a new relationship between Scotland and the EU is central to our vision. We want Scotland to join the family of European nations, playing a constructive part in decision-making as a member state – not an observer from the sidelines.”

It was not the only time Ms Sturgeon’s party and Brussels were at odds.

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The SNP was also strongly opposed to the UK joining the European Economic Community (EEC) in the early Seventies.

According to 2017 report “Euroscepticism and Opposition to British Entry into the EEC” by the French Journal of British studies, while former Prime Minister Edward Heath was negotiating Britain’s entry to the EEC, anti European sentiment in Scotland was stronger than elsewhere in the UK.

The paper notes: “The EEC was presented as inimical to self-government, dangerous to the particular economic interests of Scotland and Wales in areas such as agriculture and fishing and as undemocratic and centralised.

“One poll in 1971 suggested that 81 percent of Scots were opposed to EEC membership.

“The official SNP line reflected this eurosceptic mood in the country and it openly condemned the “English Parties”, Labour and the Conservatives, for seeking to force the Scots into a European grouping against their will.”

Despite Edward Heath claiming he would not have taken Britain into the Community without “the full-hearted consent of Parliament and the people”, the former Prime Minister brought forward legislation to join the bloc and did not hold a referendum.

The UK formally joined the EEC in 1973.

However, by the start of 1974, there was already a two-to-one majority believing the country had been wrong to join.

In 1974, the Labour Party won the general election with a manifesto promising a referendum on membership and, in 1975, former Prime Minister Harold Wilson called for the plebiscite.

Before the referendum campaigns started, two-thirds of the public wanted Britain out, but by the end the figures were exactly reversed, the BBC reported.

On June 5, 1975, British voters approved continued EC/EEC membership by 67 percent to 33 percent on a national turnout of 64 percent.

However, once again, Scotland proved to be more eurosceptic than the rest of the UK.

According to the French Journal of British studies report, the “‘No” vote for the UK as a whole was 32.8 percent. In England it was 31.3 percent and in Scotland 41.6 percent”.

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