Read in Catalan

The usual tricks. The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) has backtracked on its support for the mention of the possible independence from Scotland in a text on the consequences of Brexit, having finally voted against the reference in the report by the Spanish joint parliamentary committee on the EU. However, in the previous vote on the text, the Socialists had given their approval to the amendments introduced by Junts (Together for Catalonia) and the PNV (Basque Nationalists) to explicitly mention the possibility of Scotland holding a new independence referendum and requesting its entry into the European Union. Now they have changed their mind.

The PSOE parliamentary group decided, in the end, to reject three points in the final recommendations of the report which mention the cases of both Scotland and Northern Ireland. The changes elicited reactions of "surprise" from the pro-independence parties, as they had not been informed of how the text was going to be voted. In fact, the Popular Party (PP) had called for these conclusions to be voted on separately, which allowed the Socialists to finally position themselves against the amendments on Scotland and the reunification of Ireland (along with the three parties of the right, the PP, Vox and Ciudadanos). Junts and the PNV as well as EH Bildu and ERC were very upset.

The anger of the pro-independence forces

Junts MP Mariona Illamola expressed her incomprehension about the procedure and the change of heart by the PSOE. "These changes weaken the confidence that is possible in certain parliamentary groups that change positions," she said. She also argued that the proposed text simply states that there was a referendum in Scotland, as well as the intention expressed by Nicola Sturgeon to hold a new independence consultation. "It's not an opinion. These are neutral amendments that describe reality," she affirmed.

PNV senator Jesús Uribe-Etxebarría criticized that the points were voted on separately and asked the Socialists to explain their "change of position". He also criticized the PSOE for maintaining "the same attitude" as the British government towards Brexit: "Sign it, knowing that you will not abide by it". In a similar vein, EH Bildu senator Gorka Elajabarrieta said that he did not understand "the urgent need to want to erase" what had been approved in the report if not for the "fear" that that "stateless nations might freely and democratically decide their future."

"Reality is stubborn and Northern Ireland and Scotland will vote and the EU and its member states will have to debate making decisions about it. Avoiding it, postponing it and delaying it does not help and it is a childish attitude," he concluded.

Scotland's right to join the EU

For his part, PSOE senator José Luis Bolaños avoided offering the requested explanations. He limited himself to saying that the Socialists do not consider that "the report should concern itself with the internal affairs of third countries or constitutional matters in which this committee should not get involved."

The second of the two points deleted in the initial text referred to the Scottish independence referendum of September 2014, noting that the negative result was a consequence "of the doubt as to whether they would cease to be members of the EU". Despite this, it recalled that Sturgeon intends to hold a second referendum and that at this point the pro-independence option could win. Thus, the document warned that "if Scotland applies for membership of the EU, it will have the right to materialize this democratic will through the required application for membership and compliance with the criteria set by the EU."

The report on Brexit and its consequences was produced by the Joint Committee on the European Union, a Spanish parliamentary committee comprising members of both the Senate and Congress.  


Main image: Scottish independence demonstration in Glasgow held in January 2020 / Europa Press