Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for Scotland to stay in the EU single market even if the rest of the UK comes out has been dealt another major blow after the Welsh First Minister said it could not “possibly work”.
Carwyn Jones said that having different trade arrangements north and south of the Border would require customs posts to control the flow of goods and services being traded on “different terms on the same island.”
Speaking ahead of talks with Ms Sturgeon at the British-Irish Council yesterday, he said there could not be separate access arrangements to the EU single markets between the three home nations “that share the same landmass”.
His intervention came after one of Spain’s most powerful MEPs told the Telegraph that Ms Sturgeon’s proposal was “impossible” and his country’s government would reject Scotland staying in the EU single market if the rest of the UK leaves.
Esteban Gonzales Pons, who leads the Spanish delegation of MEPs in the European Parliament’s largest political grouping, said Spain would oppose any such plan for fear of encouraging its own separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country.
His intervention is significant as any special deal for Scotland, including membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA), would require the consent of all EU member states. Ms Sturgeon is due to unveil specific proposals shortly.
Although Mr Gonzalez Pons was not speaking on behalf of the Spanish government, which will not comment on the Brexit negotiations until the UK triggers the Article 50 process, he said his view represented the stance of Spain’s ruling People’s Party (PP).
Fiona Hyslop, Ms Sturgeon’s External Affairs Minister, continued to insist that “nothing is impossible” but the Scottish Conservatives said the two interventions “blow a hole” in the First Minister’s negotiating stance and she should focus on working with the rest of the UK.