THE so-called "Spanish veto" is one of the most enduring anti-independence myths.

First circulated in 2012 in the weeks after the intention to hold a referendum on the country's future was announced, it contends that there is no way an independent Scotland would be allowed to join the European Union, because Spain would exercise its veto rights to block the move.

The logic goes that this would happen because Spain does not want to offer encouragement to pro-indy activists in Catalonia and the Basque Country, among others.

Originally reported by the Independent on Sunday, it was then attributed to anonymous "Whitehall sources" and an unnamed UK Government minister, but did not include any response from Spanish leaders – who have repeatedly stated that they would do nothing of the sort.

In February 2012, Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo made this categorical denial of the veto myth: "If the two parts of the United Kingdom are in agreement that it is in accord with their constitutional arrangement, written or unwritten, Spain would have nothing to say. We would simply maintain that it does not affect us."

In case that wasn't clear enough, he added: "The constitutional arrangements of the United Kingdom are one thing, those of Spain another, and it is their own business if they decide to separate from one another."

But when the Better Together campaign continued to circulate the myth, he went on record again in February 2014 to say that an independent Scotland's admission to the EU "can be considered" as long as the move is "in accordance with the legal and institutional procedures".

However, that still didn't stop pro-Union campaigners trotting it out again and again, and in the last week of August 2014, Better Together circulated comments by Ruairi Quinn, a former president of the European and Financial Affairs Council of the EU, saying that Spain would veto Scotland's entry.

Douglas Alexander, the then-shadow foreign secretary and Better Together figurehead, said: "That it is taking outsiders like Mr Quinn to tell Scots the truth on issues like the EU is testament to the deceit of the nationalist campaign."

Which would be fine, if that was anywhere near accurate.

As this newspaper revealed in June, Spain's most senior diplomat in Scotland stressed it had never been Spanish policy to veto Scotland's aspirations in a letter sent to the Scottish Government and The Herald in April this year.

The National obtained the unpublished letter from Miguel Angel Vecino Quintana, then the Spanish Consul General in Edinburgh, under Freedom of Information laws.

READ MORE: Spain: We will not block independent Scotland’s EU membership

It was sent in response to a report which contained comments from a Spanish MEP from opposition party Partido Popular (PP), who'd said Scotland would have to "get in line, behind Turkey and behind Serbia, to end up as an EU state".

But the diplomat wrote: "The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Joseph Borrell has recently declared that Spain will not block Scotland's entry into the European Union if independence is legally achieved and such has always been the intention of the Spanish Government.

"The Spanish Government has not and never will intervene in the internal affairs of the United Kingdom or any other state and expects the same reciprocal attitude."

He went on: "I would like to make it very clear that Mr Gonzalez Pons' statement is his and his party's exclusive responsibility and not the Spanish Government's at all."

It should be remembered, of course, that Scots were told the only way to protect EU membership was to stay in the Union – something that was, like the claims of a Spanish veto, categorically untrue.


The Spanish Government will NOT veto Scottish accession to the European Union – and it has been repeating that message for years. The “Spanish veto” is simply a lie used to scare Scots into voting No, regardless of what  pro-Union campaigners and newspapers want you to think.

This article is part of our BUSTED supplement, debunking nine Unionist myths about Scottish independence. It was made possible by support for our 10,000 Steps campaign – if you haven't yet subscribed to The National, click here to find out how it'll help us boost the case for Yes directly.