POLITICS

Scottish Independence: Jean Claude Juncker Has P****d Off Yes Campaigners After Just 2 Days

16/07/2014 13:21 BST | Updated 17/07/2014 10:59 BST

On just his second day on the job, the new head of the European Union has already been dragged into the Scottish independence debate, after he made comments suggesting Scotland would be unable to join the EU for at least five years.

Jean Claude Juncker said in his opening speech to MEPs in Brussels that the EU would not accept any new members until 2019, comments widely interpreted as an attack on the Yes Campaign's aspirations for the country to quickly and painlessly join the EU. Membership has been a key issue in the debate ahead of September's referendum.

Alex Salmond has maintained that Scotland could renegotiate its EU membership between a Yes vote and its independence day, despite the previous EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso saying it would "extremely difficult, if not impossible".

jean claude juncker

Jean Claude Juncker. Not pictured - Alex Salmond

Juncker said there would be "consolidation" of the EU's current 28 members and no expansion for five years - well beyond Scotland's envisaged independence 18 months after the vote.

"Over the next five years, there won't be any new member states acceding to the European Union," he told MEPs, just before he was confirmed in post. "It's hard to imagine that one of the candidate states with whom we are negotiating will have, in time, met all the accession criteria."

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But Juncker's office swiftly denied that the comments had been a judgment call on Scottish independence, and told the BBC that he was talking about countries that he was talking about countries already trying to join the EU and not a hypothetical case about Scotland.

The Yes Campaign said that Juncker's comments were “obviously” referring to countries like Kosovo and Turkey that are currently outside the EU.

But opponents of Scottish independence still piled in to say Juncker's comments were reason to doubt the case for independence.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, told The Daily Telegraph: "Jean Claude Junker is only confirming what we already know – that an independent Scotland would have to join the same queue as everybody else for membership of the EU.

"Only today we find that queue has grown to a minimum of five years. On one side we have Alex Salmond with his non–existent legal advice, and on the other we have the people actually making the decisions about EU entry.”

Meanwhile, a new video campaign featuring pro-Union famous faces, including Doreen Lawrence has been launched to encourage people in the rest of the UK to have a say in the referendum debate.

doreen lawrence

Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered teenager Stephen, is among the famous faces in a new video opposing Scottish independence

Other household names who have lent their support to the Let's Stay Together film include Doctor Who and Torchwood star John Barrowman, EastEnders actor Ross Kemp, comedian Eddie Izzard and actor Tony Robinson.

Campaign organisers said the views of people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have largely gone unheard in the debate and the video will "show Scotland that we do care".

The film follows the launch of an online campaign video for Yes Scotland featuring the Emmy award-winning actor Brian Cox, fellow actor Martin Compston, comedienne Elaine C Smith, Billy Elliot star Gary Lewis, Deacon Blue front-man Ricky Ross and double Michelin star chef Andrew Fairlie.

Scottish Independence: Who Stands Where?

Scottish Independence: Who Stands Where