The foreign secretary warned that Salmond’s belief that EU membership could be agreed in 18 months was “far from certain” and asked for the first minister’s “plan B” – his alternative proposals in case Scotland failed to win a deal with all 28 member states, some of which will need referendums to agree, before his planned independence day in March 2016. “Scotland’s negotiations to join the EU are likely to be complex and long and the outcome would certainly prove less advantageous than the status quo,” Hague said.
“People in Scotland deserve to have the available facts ahead of making one of the most important political decisions in the history of our union.”
Hague said Scotland would lose the UK’s lucrative rebate, worth around £3bn a year to the UK, and end up paying far more per head than at present to the EU, effectively contributing to the UK’s rebate after independence. It would also get £188m (€228m) less from EU structural funds by 2020.
He asked Salmond to explain how Scotland would persuade other EU members to agree not to make Scotland join the euro or the Schengen treaty on open borders – treaty requirements every recent new member has had to accept. “The co-operation pointed to by your government in its [independence] white paper as the basis of the way forward is no substitute for the [UK],” Hague said. “The people of Scotland would be swapping the guaranteed negotiating power of one of the EU’s most powerful states for the hope of goodwill from 28 others – and with a much higher price tag – a poor substitute indeed.”
Hopefully Salmond will explain.