The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Alex Salmond Headshot

Open Letter to William Hague

Posted: Updated:

Thank you for your letter asking me questions about my speech today.

I should say however that your political intelligence from UKREP is somewhat awry. I am speaking in Bruges rather than Brussels at the College of Europe. As you will remember, it is now 25 years since your political mentor Lady Thatcher made a speech at that venue which continues to divide your party to this day.

My visit to the commission is on a much more specific matter - the question of EU regulations and our wish to promote the living wage in public sector contracts. I have already offered to give UKREP a copy of that correspondence. And you will remember the UK government has repeatedly refused to jointly approach the commission with the precise legal scenario on Scottish independence.

I shall send you a copy of my Bruges speech but in the meantime perhaps I can help you with some of your questions.

The purpose of the address is to articulate the constructive role an independent Scotland could play in the Europe Union. 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.
Firstly, the proposal of using Article 48 to progress Scotland's position has been endorsed by many experts, including, for example, the Hon Director General Graeme Avery in his evidence to the Scottish Parliament European Committee. You will be aware of the substantial weight of evidence presented to that committee pouring scorn on your government's attitude on these matters.

Secondly, the timescale of 18 months for negotiation has been described as "realistic" by professor James Crawford, who you chose to present the UK government's legal position and framework.

Thirdly, we propose a no detriment position for other member states. Your comments on agriculture are particularly ironic since your government has negotiated the lowest settlement per hectare for Scottish farmers (that is lower than the member state minimum) of any of the long standing EU members at a cost over the period of the budget of £333.

Fourthly, as you are well aware, there is no mechanism to force countries into the Euro - a point the prime minister has alluded to - while there is no detectable wish from anyone outside your own ranks who see Scotland as anything other than in the Common Travel Area which encompasses these islands.

Fifthly, you seem oblivious to the fact that the cross border pension issue is as much a matter for the rest of the UK as for Scotland, which is one of the many reasons why it would be approached by a transitional period, or, as widely anticipated by the incoming commission, on a more general basis.

Finally, I have read your January paper on the EU. Since its publication support for independence has risen steadily in the polls, while support for your position and your party in the European elections has plummeted. As you will remember the general feeling was that your forecasts of the outcome of Scottish independence would be as wide of the mark as your now admitted mistakes about devolution when you were Conservative Party leader. This could be because people in Scotland can see the advantages of Scotland's interests being promoted on Europe by a Government which is clear about our position, as opposed to a London based party still riven with division 25 years after Lady Thatcher's address and who are prepared to put that position at substantial risk.

In this as in much other in this debate a positive vision is proving far more powerful than the depressing negativity of the London approach.

Around the Web

Alex Salmond - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alex Salmond MSP | Scottish National Party

Alex Salmond - MSPs : Scottish Parliament

Alex Salmond insists independent Scotland would remain in EU ...

Alex Salmond: I admire 'certain aspects' of Vladimir Putin's ...

Alex Salmond's fisheries threat to EU alarms industry

Alex Salmond insists independent Scotland would remain in EU

Alex Salmond reveals views on Putin, Farage and Merkel

EU denies Alex Salmond's claim over living wage

'Effective' Putin has admirable qualities, says Alex Salmond