SNP leader Alex Salmond insists and independent Scotland would join the EU and keep the pound sterling in a currency union with the UK
SNP leader Alex Salmond insists and independent Scotland would join the EU and keep the pound sterling in a currency union with the UK Reuters

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague has dismissed Scotland's claims that the country will instantly become part of the European Union if it breaks away from Britain.

Hague said in a letter to the Scottish National Party's leader, Alex Salmond, that an independent Scotland would have a "long and complex" negotiation process to remain part of the EU and therefore it is in the country's best interest to stay in the UK.

"Scotland benefits from the UK's strong voice in Europe," said Hague in the letter. "[Independence] would certainly prove less advantageous than the status quo.

"People in Scotland deserve to have the available facts ahead of making one of the most important political decisions in the history of our union.

"The terms of EU membership which your [Scotland's] government has said it will seek to secure for an independent Scotland are at odds with the EU's own rules of membership."

Scottish people will vote in an independence referendum in September this year and will be asked the straight "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Salmond Hits Back

The SNP is pushing for a yes vote in the 18 September referendum, but has continually told voters it is likely that the country will retain the pound, remain part of the EU and have an instantly thriving economy.

Salmond hit back at Hague by claiming an independent Scotland would still play a "constructive role" in the EU and the country's natural resources make it one of the "linchpins" of the bloc.

Mr Salmond has sent a reply to the Foreign Secretary stating that "the UK government has repeatedly refused to jointly approach the Commission with the precise legal scenario on Scottish independence.

"[I am doing a speech] to articulate the constructive role an independent Scotland could play in the EU. This contrasts of course with the renegotiation and in-out referendum favoured by your party, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the real threat to Scotland's position comes from the anti-European streak which now dominates your approach to politics."

Last month, Salmond claimed that no EU member has indicated that it will block the country from joining the 28 nation-bloc, despite the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso saying otherwise.

His comments came only two days after Barroso said that if Scotland votes to leave the UK, the Scottish government will have to apply independently for membership and obtain approval from all current EU members.

"Of course it will be extremely difficult to get the approval of all the other member states to have a new member coming from one member state," said Barroso.

"I believe it's going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible - a new member state coming out of one of our countries getting the agreement of the others."