Spain boosts Nicola Sturgeon's hope for Scottish Independence referendum

Tareq Haddad

Nicola Sturgeon's campaign for a second Scottish referendum (IndyRef2) have received a boost after Spain has indicated it would not block its attempts to rejoin the European Union.

Spain has repeatedly said in the past it would block's Scotland aspirations of joining the bloc for fear it may empower its Catalan population.

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However, in an apparent shift in tone, Spain's Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said Madrid would not welcome Scotland's breakaway, but would accept it.

"We don't want it [Scottish Independence] to happen," he told the Guardian. "But if it happens legally and constitutionally, we would not block it.

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"We don't encourage the breakup of any member states, because we think the future goes in a different direction."

Dastis also reinforced a finding of the European commission earlier this month that an independent Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU.

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"They would have to join the line of candidates at some point and would have to start negotiations," he said.

However, joining the EU is a notoriously complex process, which could take up to four years to accomplish.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis

With Brexit set to dominate the EU's manpower for years to come, it is likely the process would be delayed even further.

Rejoining the EU would also pose difficult questions for Sturgeons she has yet to address. Not only would Scotland be unable to access perks enjoyed by the UK, such as rebates on EU payments, it would have to adopt the Euro, as mandated by the EU for new joiners.

Sturgeon has previously indicated the SNP would be open to debates within the Scottish National Party about using the Euro, but it is unclear how such a move would playout in the country.

Recent polls have suggested that Scottish appetite for leaving the UK in order to precipitate a closer relationship with Europe may not be as strong as Sturgeon assures.

It comes in the midst of a row between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar's sovereignty. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Britain will go "all the way" to defending its territorial claims over the island.

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