Europe’s cultural elite demand Scotland gets EU membership before independence referendum

Smug members of Europe’s cultural elite have weighed into domestic British politics by demanding Brussels offers Scotland membership of the EU in advance of an independence referendum.

More than 170 European artists, writers and philosophers have penned a letter to Eurocrats arguing Scotland “deserves a different process”.

They are seen to be taking advantage of the strong association between nationalist movements in Britain and European integration during an unstable period for the Union. The situation is exacerbated by the increasing weakness of the Labour Party, which is nominally pro-Union but is not making much of a case for it.

In Scotland, where the SNP are poised to strengthen their grip on power at next month’s Holyrood elections, Britain’s withdrawal from the EU has been cynically used to present the case for independence even though the sizeable Leave vote at the 2016 EU referendum was evenly split between Unionist and Nationalists.  

However, the preference of many SNP voters to stay out of the EU has evaded public debate, enabling liberal figures like Scottish actor Brian Cox, one of the letter’s signatories and a campaigner for independence, to build on the impression Scots unanimously want to join the EU.

The letter calls for the EU to make a “unilateral and open offer of membership, an exceptional proposal to match Scotland’s exceptional circumstances.” The Euro-culture vultures also called for “creative practical thinking” to help overcome obstacles, including big cash transfers to aid transition.

Even though the SNP is welded to EU membership, the issue caused significant headaches at the referendum as voters were turned off by the thought of having to adopt the Euro – even though several members of the bloc have opt-outs from the single currency, the privilege cannot be extended to new entrants.

Meanwhile, another huge deterrent to joining the EU has emerged as a result of British independence from the EU. The thorny issue of Northern Ireland during the prolonged Brexit negotiations led Eurocrats like Michel Barnier to continually declare their priority was to ‘protect the integrity of the single market’. Brussels wouldn’t budge, which led to a problematic customs border being placed in the Irish Sea.

Were Scotland to join the EU, it is fully expected that a similar arrangement would have to be put in place to manage £50 billion of trade with the rest of the UK, potentially disastrous for the economy north of the border.

But according to an SNP candidate, Scotland “can show that a border will work”. Emma Harper, who is running for the Holyrood seat of Dumfries and Galloway told ITV last week that “There are issues that have been brought to my attention that show the jobs can be created if a border is created.”

She did not explore the costs however.