Scotland ‘welcome’ to become the next EU Member State

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A group of 50 European lawmakers have signed a letter to express their support for Scotland joining the European Union if the Scottish people vote for independence from the UK, in the wake of Britain’s exit from the bloc.

The open letter was sent to the Scottish government on Monday by lawmakers from several EU states, including Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain and Belgium.

The letter was signed by 26 members of the European Parliament, as well as members of national and regional parliaments.

“If Scotland were to become an independent country and decided to seek to maintain EU membership, we offer our full support to ensure the transition is as swift, smooth and orderly as possible,” they wrote.

“Scotland would be most welcome as a full member of the EU, with your 5 million European citizens continuing to benefit from the rights and protections we all currently enjoy,” the letter said.

The United Kingdom held a referendum last June in which Britons voted by a 52-48 percent margin to leave the EU, the first member state ever to do so.

Among the countries that make up Britain, England and Wales voted to leave the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the bloc.

The Brexit referendum prompted nationalists in Scotland and Northern Ireland to call for a referendum on independence from the United Kingdom.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the formal, two-year process of withdrawing Britain from the EU on March 29.

“Whilst we are saddened by the vote of a small majority for the United Kingdom to leave the EU, we respect this as a democratic decision of UK citizens. We recognize that this was not your choice, however, and that Scotland voted strongly to remain within the EU,” the letter states.

The Scottish National Party, which is spearheading Edinburgh’s push for an independence referendum, says Britain’s exit from the EU is not in the national interests of Scotland.

During a speech last week at Stanford University in the US state of California, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “We are being forced to leave the EU against our will.”