Spain said it would not “initially” veto an attempt by an independent Scotland to join the European Union after Britain has left the bloc as British Finance Minister Philip Hammonds will travel to India next week to boost international trade as Britain begins the process to leave the union.
Spain has long been seen as an obstacle to an independent Scotland joining the EU to deter separatists in some of its own regions.
“Initially, I don’t think we would block it,” Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said in an interview published in Spain’s El Pais newspaper on Sunday.
However, he added Scotland would leave the EU with Britain, “the rest we will see.”
He also said Spain did not welcome fragmentation of the European family.
“Having said that, if, in application of its laws, the outcome of that process is a division of the United Kingdom, any part of the United Kingdom that becomes a state and wants to join the EU will have to apply. And follow the steps that are stipulated”.
Meanwhile, Hammond will head a business delegation to India next week in an effort to boost international trade as Britain begins the Brexit process.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Hammond will be joined by International Trade Minister Mark Garnier and Bank of England governor Mark Carney for the high-level talks in New Delhi and Mumbai.
“As we leave the EU and embark on an exciting new phase of our economic history, looking to boost our trade and investment beyond the borders of Europe and strengthening our relationships with the world’s most vibrant economies is more important than ever,” Hammond said in a statement.
Nine months after the shock referendum vote in favor of Britain exiting the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday formally activated Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, starting a two-year countdown for quitting the bloc.
May insists that Britain will pull out of the European single market to control EU immigration as part of her Conservative government’s Brexit plans.
Britain is now looking to strike new trade deals over the coming years with non-EU countries, although it cannot do so while still a member of the bloc.
Next week’s talks form part of the annual UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue and Hammond’s delegation will include leaders from the field of UK financial services.
India’s “finance sector is undergoing a significant transformation, with new payment firms, small finance banks and insurance players entering the field”, the Treasury statement said.
“This shift presents enormous opportunities for the UK to work much more closely with India’s own exciting Fintech sector.”
The statement added: “The trip is also a significant opportunity, following the triggering of Article 50, for the chancellor to discuss Britain’s new role in the world, as it prepares to revitalize its links with friends and allies, opening up new markets and new opportunities for British businesses.”