Spanish and French leaders today rejected any possibility of Scotland having a separate role in talks between Britain and the European Union after the Brexit vote.
Spain has consistently opposed Scottish independence for fear its own separatists, especially in Catalonia, its richest region, would claim a crucial precedent while France has taken a hard line on Britain’s departure.
Speaking in Brussels after the 27 remaining EU leaders met to discuss the next step, Spain’s acting Premier Mariano Rajoy said: “The Spanish government is opposed to any negotiations with anyone else but the British government.”
“The United Kingdom leaves and with it, all those who make up the United Kingdom,” he said.
French President Francois Hollande made the same point separately.
“The negotiations will be with the United Kingdom, not with a part of the United Kingdom,” Hollande told reporters after the summit.
“It is only in this context that it will be possible to envisage situations, solutions that might concern Scotland,” he added.
Rajoy and Hollande spoke shortly before Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, having earlier held talks with European Parliament head Martin Schulz.
European Council President Donald Tusk declined to meet Sturgeon as it was “not the appropriate moment”, an EU source said yesterday.
Sturgeon told reporters later Wednesday that she was “heartened” by her talks with top EU officials as she set about protecting Scotland’s place inside the EU and Britain prepares to leave.
“I don’t underestimate the challenge but I have been heartened today that I’ve found a willingness to listen,” she said, conceding that that did not necessarily make her task any easier.
Asked about Rajoy’s remarks, Sturgeon said she did not find them “particularly surprising.”
“We are at an early stage in this process; this is a UK negotiation with the EU and I fully respect that,” she said.
“What I am seeking to do is once UK negotiations with the EU get underway – and of course none of us know exactly when that will be – that all of the options are considered and Scotland is represented,” Sturgeon added
While Britain as a whole voted 52-48 per cent to leave the EU, Scotland voted 62-38 per cent to remain.