Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled her latest plot to thwart Brexit
Edinburgh’s foreign minister Fiona Hyslop attempted to woo parliamentarians in Brussels yesterday as she meekly called on them to “defend” Scotland from Theresa May's government.
In a simpering speech she heaped praise upon MEPs and urged them to “challenge” the Government’s negotiations with the EU if they look destined to pull the whole of the UK out of the single market.
European parliamentarians will have to approve any exit deal agreed between Britain and the rest of the EU, and Ms Hyslop’s plea was an open plea for them to consider voting it down.
Addressing the EU parliament on behalf of the administration in Holyrood, she revealed Ms Sturgeon will accept the triggering of Article 50 but whimpered: “Please do not turn your back on Scotland.”
Scottish foreign minister Fiona Hyslop urged MEPs not to 'turn their backs' on Scotland
Gibraltar's leader Fabian Picard also called for a special deal with Brussels
The minister was speaking at a hearing into the constitutional challenges posed by Brexit at which Fabian Picardo, the leader of Gibraltar, also expressed hopes for a special deal for the Rock.
She said: “We are not seeking a separate parallel negotiation with EU institutions and member states. We accept that one Article 50 has been invoked the negotiations will be between the UK and the EU.
“But we do believe that we have the right to ask the UK Government to include a commitment in its Article 50 letter to pursue a differentiative solution for Scotland which will enable us to remain in the European single market.
“And we also believe that the European Parliament, which represents the voice of European citizens, has the right to challenge whether the Article 50 negotiations respect the rights of citizens in all parts of the UK and indeed throughout the EU.”
She rambled on: “In order that the rights of all citizens in all parts of the UK are respected, it is essential that differentiation for Scotland and other parts of the UK is a theme for the Article 50 letter, the response and the overall outcome.
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“I ask you respectfully members of the European Parliament, as the elected body representing all EU citizens, please do not turn your back on Scotland.
“Now is the time to demonstrate your solidarity with a nation which voted overwhelmingly to remain within the European Union. We ask that you listen to and defend the interests of people living working and studying in Scotland who are also EU citizens.”
The emotional plea to MEPs comes after Ms Sturgeon got short shrift in her attempts to woo European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Council chief Donald Tusk.
She was ent packing when she pleaded for a special deal for Scotland on that occasion, and was told she would have to win an independence referendum then submit a new application for membership of the bloc.
Please do not turn your back on Scotland
Scottish minister for external affairs Fiona Hyslop
But whilst the EU Commission and the Council will hold most of the power over the negotiations themselves, the SNP leader’s new tactic to woo the more fanatically europhile parliament could bear fruit if they agree to block a deal which does not compensate for Scottish interests.
During the same meeting Mr Picard, who represents Gibraltar which along with Scotland voted overwhelmingly to Remain, said the overseas territory must not be affected by changes to free movement post-Brexit.
He said: “Gibraltar’s situation is unique and cannot be overlooked in the process of negotiation which is forthcoming.
“A proper free flowing frontier for day cross border workers and tourists as distinct from the EU’s free movement of people as understood generally in the United Kingdom is an essential.
“Gibraltar has always had a different status in the EU to the UK and in so far as the remaining member states agree and Gibraltar wishes we should be able to enjoy any opt in or make any other realistically and geographically sensible arrangements.”
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He called for specific solutions to Gibraltar’s concerns – its service-based economy is very heavily reliant on access to the single market – but said he wanted to see both the UK and the EU thrive after Brexit.
Mr Picard said officials must work “to negotiate in the best interests and for the mutual benefit of each others citizens, to work to secure a continued partnership beyond membership between a successful newly independent United Kingdom and a thriving developing European Union”, adding: “And I trust you will do so with good will and a sympathetic eye on the people of Gibraltar.”
He implored: “Because we may leave the European Union but our hearts will always be in Europe and our homes will always be European.”
The twin calls for special deals will provide a further headache for Mrs May as she gears up to trigger Article 50, which will be followed by an intense two-year negotiating period with Brussels.