14 Oct 2016

Nicola Sturgeon: border checks ‘lack all credibility’

Nicola Sturgeon feels that Theresa May has gifted her a priceless argument for the second Scottish independence referendum whenever it comes.

Every time the UK government talks of maintaining excellent trade with Ireland, a separate nation and an EU member,  she says it’s removing all credibility for the claim that an independent Scotland could be harming Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK.

SNP figures are also closely watching the discussions between London and Dublin on how to stop a hard border happening between Northern Ireland and Ireland, saying they provide a template for an invisible border between an independent Scotland and  England. In London, ministers say that the SNP’s hopes for a relaxed immigration policy (on display again in the conference chamber today) would mean there couldn’t be an open border.

Nicola Sturgeon said today in an interview with Channel 4 News that any suggestion that there would need to be border checks between England and Scotland if Scotland opted for independence and went back into the EU “lack all credibility”.

Scotland’s First Minister said trust hadn’t broken down between her and Theresa May but “it has yet to be properly established”.

The SNP leader, who addresses her conference in Glasgow tomorrow, said those in the British Government who accused her of bluster in threatening an independence referendum were “very daft”. “This is not a game of chicken,” she said.

I asked if she had received any private assurances from EU leaders normally hostile to breakaway nations being given EU membership that an independent Scotland would get back into the EU club if it had fallen out of the EU as part of Brexit. Mrs Sturgeon said “I haven’t gone looking for them” but acknowledged those sort of questions would have to be asked further down the track.

Scotland’s First Minister said talk of Scotland’s deficit, currently at 15 per cent, being comparable with Greece’s was “quite outrageous”. She said “I don’t think people realise how deeply offensive it is” to compare Scotland with Greece and suggested that her political opponents would pay a price with public support if they keep making comparisons like that.

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