The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson has told the Prime Minister that Scotland “will have a referendum” if she does not reach an agreement with the Scottish Government on keeping the UK in the European single market after Brexit in a blistering exchange in the House of Commons.
The Prime Minister had previously claimed that Scotland would be leaving the European Union regardless of whether or not it votes for independence.
Mr Robertson claimed that following her arrival in Downing Street, Ms May had “promised to secure a UK-wide approach, an agreement, between the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the UK government before triggering article 50. So when will the Prime Minister announce the details of the agreement?”
After howls of derision from other members of the house, Mr Robertson added: “Last year she made a promise. She promised an agreement. I asked her about it yesterday. She didn’t answer. I asked her about it now. She hasn’t answered.
“When will she reach an agreement – not discussions – an agreement with the Scottish government before triggering article 50?”
“Does she not understand that if she does not secure an agreement before triggering Article 50, if she is not prepared to negotiate on behalf of the Scottish government to secure membership of the single European market, people in Scotland will have a referendum, and we will have our say.”
However, echoing comments from the European Commission on Monday, Ms May suggested an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the EU rather than automatically being a member.
A commission spokesman said the “Barroso doctrine” still applied referencing the former president Jose Manuel Barroso setting out the legal view that if one part of an EU country became an independent state it would have to apply for EU membership.
She said: “Scotland will be leaving the European Union, it will leave the European Union either as a member of the United Kingdom or were it independent.”
“It’s very clear with the Barroso doctrine, it would not be a member of the European Union.”
Ms May also took aim at Mr Robertson’s comments and said Article 50 would be triggered by the end of the month, starting the formal exit process from the EU.
“When the honourable gentleman looks at the issue of membership of the EU, and his view of Scotland not being a member of the United Kingdom, he is comparing membership of an organisation that we’ve been a member of for 40 years with our country.
“We have been one country for over 300 years. We have fought together, we have worked together, we have achieved together, and constitutional game playing must not be allowed to break the deep bonds of our shared history and our future together.”