Scotland would be be at back of queue to join EU if it becomes independent, says Spanish foreign minister

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Spain's Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis: Sergio Perez/Reuters

Scotland would "have to queue" to rejoin Europe in the event it achieved independence, Spain’s foreign minister has warned.

Alfonso Dastis said Spain wants "things to stay as they are" in response to Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that she plans to hold a second independence referendum.

He said: "Spain supports the integrity of the United Kingdom and does not encourage secessions or divisions in any of the member states. We prefer things to stay as they are."

He also warned of the obstacles to entry for an independent Scotland and made it clear the country would receive no special treatment.

He said Scotland "would have to queue, meet the requirements for entry, hold negotiations and the result would be that these negotiations would take place."

The issue of independence is one of particular contention for Spain as the country fights its own separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque country.

Ms Sturgeon made the surprise announcement on Monday citing a Westminster that had "not moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise and agreement" with Holyrood over Brexit.

She also claimed even a good Brexit deal would be "significantly inferior" to the status quo.

She said: "If Scotland is to have a real choice – when the terms of Brexit are known but before it is too late to choose our own course – then that choice must be offered between the autumn of next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019."

However, the UK Parliament must authorise any such poll – meaning Ms Sturgeon's call could be blocked by Ms May who attacked the move, accusing her Scottish counterpart of playing "games" and the SNP of having "tunnel vision".

It is thought to be extremely unlikely that Downing Street would block the referendum altogether, but reports on Tuesday morning suggested the referendum, which requires the approval of both Houses of Parliament in Westminster, would not come before the UK leaves the European Union.