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EU woos Sturgeon in bid to keep ‘informal links’ between Scotland and bloc despite Brexit

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The Chairman of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee has called on Scottish politicians to keep informal links with Brussels despite the UK leaving the EU.

A majority of Scottish voters voted to remain in the bloc in the 2016 Brexit referendum and SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has since vowed to rejoin the bloc as an independent country from the UK.

Speaking before the Holyrood’s Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, German MEP David McAllister told MSPs of the need to “seek ways to broaden and to deepen our EU-UK partnership”.

He said: “I believe this would be in the interests of both sides to maintain a close and lasting co-operation given our shared values and interests – especially in an increasingly unstable world.”

He added: “There is potential for foreign and security policy cooperation with the United Kingdom in several areas.

“I do hope that we can explore that potential in the near future.”

But pushing for continued cooperation between Scotland and the EU despite Brexit, he said: “Scotland should pursue its engagement with the EU by pursuing its interests with the UK Government, bearing in mind the current constitutional situation of Scotland.

“On the other hand, Scotland can pursue a different and more informal engagement with the EU within the limits, of course, of its constitutional position.

“This includes exchanges like we are having just this morning as well as less formal exchanges on topics of mutual interests, which would be particularly important.

“We are happy to have those informal contacts but also we can reach out at formal events.”

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He claimed the “most important thing is that the Scottish voice is heard in the EU”.

Adding: “Therefore, my advice would be to use the formal channels you have within the framework of the UK and on the other hand use the other channels you have, including the informal ones here in Brussels, to get your message across.

“Colleagues are very well aware of the fact that the people in your part of the UK, in Scotland, voted in large numbers to remain in the European Union and that is not forgotten.

“We always try to find pragmatic, flexible solutions to try to get Scotland as close as possible to the European Union.”

Admitting the European Parliament cannot establish formal relations with regional parliaments, he said: “Formal cooperation is not possible but of course there are many, many, possibilities for informal co-operation.”

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Nicola Sturgeon took advantage of the Downing Street Christmas party scandal this week as a reason why Scotland should leave the EU.

Responding to a question from Scottish Greens MSP Gillian McKay as to whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson should resign following the alleged December 18 party, Nicola Sturgeon called for the end of his premiership as she tore into how Scotland must free itself from “corrupt” Westminster.

During Ms McKay’s question, Conservative MSPs shouted their disapproval of a question they deemed had no relevance to the Scottish Parliament.

But Ms Sturgeon hit back, slamming: “While Gillian Mackay was asking her question there, I had members of the Tory group shouting at me from a sedentary position that these issues had nothing to do with us here in the Scottish Parliament.

“Well, I beg to differ. I think the principles and the values of openness and integrity and transparency matter to all of us who care about democracy in this country.”

She added how she believed Mr Johnson has “many questions to answer” around a raft of allegations over the alleged gathering and another six alleged parties.

In a chest-thumping call to arms for independence, the First Minister said: “I think it’s time for Scotland to get rid of the whole broken, corrupt Westminster system that is holding us back!

“And we can only do that, presiding officer, by coming an independent country!”

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