A special deal that would allow Scotland to retain its membership of the EU single market even if the rest of the UK leaves would be possible according to an expert in EU law.
Speaking on Radio Scotland, Dimitri Kochenov said EU law was flexible enough to accommodate a special arrangement but warned that it would also be reliant on goodwill from the UK government.
He said: “It is clearly a possibility but it will depend on plenty of factors beyond the wishes of the First Minister.”
Kochenov said that the remaining members could choose to apply different rules to different parts of the UK.
He added: “There is a lot of flexibility in EU law so there are plenty of examples when different legal regimes, in terms of EU law, applies to different parts of a given state.
“This was the case with France. This was the case with the Netherlands. This is the case with Denmark. This is the case with the UK with special status for the Channel Islands, for the Isle of Man.”
“It’s clear that the EU will need to enter a new agreement with the UK, and then nothing prevents the EU from differentiating between different parts of the UK in that new agreement.
However Mr Kochenov warned that such an arrangement would be dependent on member states agreeing and the UK government showing goodwill..
He said: “There is a lot of room for negotiation, but the only problem is how far the goodwill of the member states of the EU can be stretched and how far internal law of the UK will permit a strict deviation from the general rule that will apply to the UK as a whole.”
“In legal terms this is absolutely possible.”
Asked if he though there would be an appetite on the continent to negotiate a special deal for Scotland, he replied: “If Scotland gets this authorisation from London first of all then I think of course.”
Mr Kochenov is an expert in citizenship, nationality and immigration law and constitutional law of the European Union with a particular emphasis on the Rule of Law and other key principles of EU law, EU external relations law, and EU Law of the Overseas: the former colonial possessions and their upgraded ties with the European Union.
His comments followed the unveiling of the Scottish government’s Brexit plan which is aimed at keeping Scotland in the EU single market. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for the UK as a whole to remain a member.
If however that is rejected by Prime Minister Theresa May then the First Minister has called for new powers to be devolved to Scotland to allow a special deal to be negotiated that would ensure Scotland’s single market status would be protected.
The First Minister has signalled that a flat out rejection of both proposals from the Conservative government could lead to a second independence referendum.