This past week has seen what has been a smooth running SNP machine start to sputter and misfire. The apparently dry issue of legal advice to the Scottish Government about admission to the EU of an independent Scotland (the dry issue being the legal advice rather than independence or EU admission) exploded as a result of what seemed to be differing versions of the same matter from Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon. Ms Sturgeon’s comment that now, following the Edinburgh Agreement regarding a referendum, the Scottish Government would be seeking legal advice on EU membership was in contradiction, it appeared, to what Mr Salmond had told Andrew Neil in an interview earlier this year.
Political opponents and the media sought to drive wedges into the crack which seemed to have opened up between them.
What has been said on the official record by Mr Salmond?
(There now follows a lengthy analysis of what has been said on the record and of the Ministerial Code and of the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ruling on the point. If you want to skip that, I have some commentary at the foot of the article. If you would rather skip my analysis, and who can blame you, then feel free to stop at the end of Mr Salmond’s last quote. Thank you.)
On 10th November 2011 the issue was raised by Iain Gray at First Minister’s Questions (FMQ) with specific reference to joining the euro currency, but also in the context of EU admission.
If the First Minister has crystal-clear legal advice on the question, will he publish it?
Mr Salmond replied:-
I refer Iain Gray to paragraph 2.3 of the Scottish ministerial code concerning legal advice, its assistance and its publication. Continue reading