The Resurrection of Scottish Foreign Policy

SummaryIn June 2016, a majority of Scots voted to remain in the European Union, while the majority of the United Kingdom as a whole voted to leave. Fearing that Scotland would be forced to leave the EU against its will, Scottish leaders have been finding ways to forge increasingly independent foreign relations. Ultimately, Scotland is worried that its distinctiveness will be erased as the U.K. becomes more internally focused.Five days after the U.K.'s surprising vote to leave the European Union, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon traveled to Brussels with hat in hand as the representative of a country that had voted 62 percent to 38 percent to remain in the European Union. Fearing that Scotland would be dragged out of the EU against its will, Sturgeon's mission was to find allies in Brussels who would support Scotland as it sought to stay in the bloc. But she found little sympathy for the cause. The EU was unwilling to open a Pandora's box of European territorial disputes by giving Sturgeon any public support. (This remains a touchy subject – Spain sacked one of its consuls in Scotland last month after he wrote in a letter to The National that Spain would not block an independent Scotland's entry into the EU.)The situation was very different during Sturgeon's most recent visit to Brussels last month. She briefed EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on her efforts to keep the U.K. in the EU's single market and her plans for a second Scottish independence referendum. She then gave a defiant speech at the European Policy Center, during which she insisted that “Scotland is, always has been, and always will be a European nation.” 

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