Brussels “would be enthusiastic” if an independent Scotland sought to rejoin the EU, former European Council President Donald Tusk said Sunday.
That prompted an immediate reaction from London, with U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab describing the remarks as “un-European and rather irresponsible.”
After Britain left the EU on Friday, the Scottish government’s position is that it will seek independence and then rejoin the bloc, against the wishes of the U.K. government.
“Emotionally, I have no doubt everyone would be enthusiastic here in Brussels and more widely, more generally also in Europe,” Tusk told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, while adding the country would need to follow the standard protocol for EU accession.
“We have our own treaty … If something like for example the independence of Scotland happens, then we need anyway a regular new process,” he said.
Tusk added that he personally would welcome Scotland in the EU: “If you ask me for my emotions and genuine feelings, you will witness only empathy.”
But Raab said Tusk’s remarks were “rather un-European and rather irresponsible, given the secessionist-separatist tendencies in Spain, in France and in Italy.”
“I’m not sure Europeans leaders, let alone here in the U.K., would welcome this kind of language,” he told the BBC.
The U.K. government does not intend to authorize another referendum on Scottish independence, citing the Scottish National Party’s description of the 2014 vote as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to settle the matter.
Meanwhile Edinburgh is continuing the charge, with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon urging Europeans to “leave a light on for Scotland” in an open letter published Friday.
Raab said the U.K. government would “expect the SNP to live up to its commitment to honor the outcome of the independence referendum, and not for them to keep coming back and asking for a second one.”