European options

SNP should look to EFTA, not EU, says MacAskill

Alyn Smith
Alyn Smith: will present paper in Dundee (pic: Terry Murden)

SNP leaders should turn their attention from trying to rejoin the EU to seeking membership of the European Free Trade Association, says a former senior figure in the party.

Westminster leader Stephen Flynn and European spokesman Alyn Smith will reveal a paper on Friday defending the SNP’s policy in favour of rejoining the EU.

But former SNP minister Kenny MacAskill, now depute leader of the Alba Party said: “ Alyn Smith and many of his colleagues still operate as if their role is to “Stop Brexit”, as if it did not happen. But it did. 

“Even with a friendly atmosphere towards Scotland from Europe an independent Scotland would still take about five years to rejoin the EU.

“For the cause of independence there is a solution to that, and this is the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which won’t take five years to join but rather Scotland can join EFTA in a matter of months and it will give us a passport into the Single Market as that would be a European Commission decision which would be much more rapid. 

“Whether we like it or not we can’t act like Brexit didn’t happen because it has. Therefore we have to change the politics of how we approach that today and into the future and not stick to the same politics of 2014.” 

Mr Smith and Mr Flynn will launch their document at an event in Dundee on Friday. Speaking ahead of the launch, former MEP Mr Smith said Scots are not interested in “halfway houses or second-best options.”

He said: “They want the restoration of full EU status, freedom of movement and all. There are other European options, Efta and the EEA, but they deliver nothing like the benefits of EU membership, with many significant downsides. 

“Efta and EEA countries pay into the EU’s budgets, are obliged to implement EU laws, but have no say in those laws or how those budgets are spent. They’re options, but they’re poor options for Scotland.

“Also, 72% of Scots want back into the EU, significantly more than want independence. 

“I believe a strong, ambitious independence campaign with getting back into the EU as a major part of it will be instrumental in getting people over the line for Yes.

“The SNP wants what’s best for Scotland – and that’s independence in the EU.”

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