EU open to Scotland joining bloc but ‘very reluctant’ to let rest of UK back in

The Saltire and European flag fly outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jane Bar

The Saltire and European flag fly outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA. - Credit: PA

The EU could be open to welcoming an independent Scotland into the bloc but is 'very reluctant' to readmit the rest of the UK, an expert has claimed.

Kirsty Hughes, a former director of thinktank Scottish Centre on Europe Relations (SCER), said Scotland had a better chance of rejoining the EU than other parts of the UK during an online conference.

Hughes predicts that Brussels would show 'complete openness' to Scotland if it vote for independence in a legally binding referendum.

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Speaking at the event, organised by pro-EU group European Movement in Scotland, she said: ''On the Scottish side I think there is complete openness if Scotland was to vote Yes in a constitutionally and legally valid referendum.

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'There is complete openness to welcoming another small, northern European country into the European Union.'

She said this would not be the case if 'there is a big stand-off over a referendum between London and Edinburgh'.

She noted: 'Frankly any big country applying to join the EU, whether it is Turkey or Ukraine or the UK, is always much more problematic usually than a smaller country.'

She said UK faced slim chance of being granted member state status again, noting that politicians in Europe had been left feeling 'disappointed, upset, angry and many other things at the Brexit vote'.

She continued: 'I think the EU would be very reluctant in the near future to welcome a penitent UK back.

'It would have to be more than penitent, it would have to be one that had clearly worked through all its political, democratic, constitutional problems and come out the other side of that.'

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