Nicola Sturgeon’s foreign affairs minister has denied that the SNP had presided over a diplomatic shambles over their attempts to get Scotland a special Brexit deal after receiving a series of high-profile rejections on the UK and world stage.
In a tetchy interview on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics programme, Fiona Hyslop insisted no other countries were publicly supporting or opposing the First Minister’s plan for Scotland to stay in the single market even if the rest of the UK comes out.
The External Affairs Minister accused host Gordon Brewer of being “offensive” for suggesting otherwise but he retorted that he was only reading out views that have been expressed over the past week.
Ms Hyslop was speaking after Mike Russell, Ms Sturgeon’s Brexit Minister, was caught dropping misleading hints to diplomats in Brussels that the Scottish Government was in talks with the Spanish.
They are concerned about giving Scotland a special deal for fear of encouraging their own separatist movements. His comments reached Alfonso Dastis, the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, prompting the Spanish government to make clear there were no discussions being staged.
Esteban Gonzalez Pons, who leads the Spanish delegation of MEPs in the European Parliament’s largest political grouping and is a member of the government’s ruling party, then told the Telegraph that Ms Sturgeon’s proposals are “impossible.”
It emerged earlier in the week that Alex Salmond has held informal talks with the four European Free Trade Association members in Switzerland over Scotland joining the organisation, which gets access to the EU single market.
But Monica Maeland, Norway’s trade minister, told a meeting in Geneva Scotland could not join as it is not a sovereign state. Carwyn Jones, the Welsh First Minister, completed a difficult week for Ms Sturgeon by saying her single market plans were unworkable.
The series of knock-backs came ahead of the start of Ms Sturgeon’s two-day visit to Dublin during which she is expected to lobby for retaining single market membership and emphasise Scotland’s economic links with Ireland.