EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Pro-independence Scottish members of parliament have presented a motion in their devolved parliament urging international recognition of Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence from Spain, putting pressure on Scotland’s leader to endorse the movement.
Scotland’s pro-independence First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has criticised Madrid’s handling of the crisis with its northern region but refrained from backing the declaration. The European Union, which she would like to see admitting a future independent Scotland, has backed Spain’s central government.
According to the website of the Scottish parliament, the MPs’ motion called on “the international community to recognise the vote of the Catalan parliament for an independent republic of Catalonia”.
Catalonia declared independence unilaterally last week after holding a vote banned under Spain’s constitution. Spain has since sacked the autonomous Catalan government and called regional elections.
The motion was signed by 21 of the 63 MPs in the Scottish National Party which runs the devolved government in Scotland. It was also signed by one lawmaker from the Scottish Greens but is unlikely to go further as it requires support from three parties to be debated in the Scottish parliament.
The move, aimed at drawing attention to the Catalan situation, comes amid nervousness about the future of Scotland’s stalled independence drive, which still has the support of around 45 percent of voters, according to polls.
Some nationalists last month called on First Minister Sturgeon, who has made comments in support of Catalonia and its right to self-determination, to recognise Catalonia’s independence, but to no avail.
“We cannot recognise Catalan independence because, much as we would like to be, we are not a sovereign state,” a Scottish government source said at the time.
The Times reported on Thursday that the Catalan breakaway government had asked for support from the Scottish government but received no reply. The Scottish government could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party lost one third of its seats in a June election for Britain’s national party in London, and has blamed the mistiming of a fresh drive for an independence referendum for the result.
Scots rejected independence by a 10-percentage point margin in 2014 but Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has exposed fresh divisions in the United Kingdom. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU, while Wales and England voted to leave.
Reporting by Elisabeth O'Leary; editing by Kate Holton and Guy Faulconbridge, Ralph Boulton