Merkel ally says Scotland ‘very active’ in Brussels – MEP ready to welcome Sturgeon back

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The German MEP told MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Europe committee that Scottish representatives in Brussels are “very active”. The senior member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party in Germany said he feels he has “a new constituency” in the European Parliament.

He said: “Let me commend the excellent work Scotland is doing in Brussels. They are very active.

“Sometimes I am so often in contact with representatives from your government that I’ve got a feeling that I have a new constituency in the European Parliament but I am happy to support where I can.

“I enjoy talking to Scots and where ever I can help I will be ready to get engaged.”

The German politician went on to criticise Boris Johnson’s decision to unenroll the UK from the bloc’s Erasmus programme.

He said: “I deeply regret the UK Government’s decision not to participate in the Erasmus programme. I don’t even want to be diplomatic. I want to be very outspoken. This is a total lose-lose situation.

“I am really really disappointed especially as the UK originally indicated that they would be ready to continue in this, a programme of academic co-operation.”

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He added: “The European Commission has made public that association to Erasmus is not possible for Scotland and Wales separately, the only possibility as the commission argues, is for the UK as a whole or not at all.

“This is a clear position taken by the European Commission, I could imagine that not everybody in the European Parliament will share the view of the Commission President in this matter but we are all politicians that was a very clear announcement from the Commission President.”

The comments came as a boost to SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s quest to take Scotland out of the UK and rejoin the EU as an independent country.

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Ms Sturgeon has said she will hold an advisory referendum on independence if her party wins a majority in May’s Holyrood elections.

Her party has set out an 11-point roadmap for taking forward another vote, which was presented to members of the SNP’s national assembly last month.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly said his Government would deny the SNP leader a referendum on independence.

The party has already lost a vote on the issue in 2014.

The Scottish election is scheduled to take place on May 6, but the current Covid restrictions in Scotland have made it near-impossible for political parties to launch campaigns ahead of the crunch vote in just over two months time.

The Electoral Commission is coming under pressure to intervene with the SNP’s rivals claiming Nicola Sturgeon’s party have been able to gain an unfair advantage in the days and weeks leading up to the election.

Ms Sturgeon has been appearing daily on weekdays on national television during her coronavirus briefings, but the former Labour MP has claimed strict Covid restrictions enforced by the SNP Government have made it impossible to fully campaign ahead of the Holyrood election.

Now a campaign group called ResignSturgeon has claimed the Scottish election cannot go ahead on May 6, as no campaigning can currently take place, while Ms Sturgeon has a “daily platform”.

They have called on the Electoral Commission to step in and stop the Holyrood election from going ahead.

ResignSturgeon tweeted: “There CANNOT be free and fair democratic elections in Scotland in May.

“No campaigning can take place and Sturgeon has a daily platform

“@ElectoralCommUK must stop these elections going ahead.”

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