PETE Wishart’s plan to ask the EU to sanction an independence referendum has been dismissed by a Brussels policy expert.

The SNP MP called for the bloc to facilitate a new vote if Boris Johnson continued to reject a request for a Section 30 Order even if the SNP win a majority at next year’s Scottish Parliament elections after a campaign to hold indyref2. He also suggested that Scotland should currently move towards “the equivalence” of accession.

“A request to the EU to sanction this referendum should be made and every attempt to involve them in the designing of that referendum should be pursued,” Wishart said in an article in The National this week.

“We should also concurrently start ‘the equivalent’ of an accession process as a substate to rejoin the EU.”

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But responding to Wishart, Paul Butcher, a policy analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, said neither European Commission, the European Parliament nor the European Council would have any legal powers to sanction an independence referendum in Scotland. He also pointed out Scotland cannot begin negotiations to join the EU while it is not an independent state.

“This is a quite extraordinary proposal, and would be met with many raised eyebrows in Brussels,” said Butcher.

“First, I wonder what Mr Wishart means when he says the request should be made to ‘the EU’?

“Does he mean the European Commission, which would surely respond that it has and can have no power to sanction votes even in member states, never mind ex-member states? Or does he mean the European Council, which would point out that Brexit negotiations are ongoing and any comment on British internal affairs would in any case be inappropriate?

“Or perhaps he means the European Parliament, which could of course debate the issue and pass a motion for or against, which would have absolutely no legal or political importance in the UK or internationally?”

He added: “What exactly is “the equivalent of an accession process, and how does it fit into the well-established EU Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, which is very clear being a state is a necessary first step to entering any kind of negotiation?

“Substates cannot join the EU, nor negotiate on future circumstances.”

Butcher said the debate about the EU in Scotland seemed to show “a lamentable lack of understanding” which does “not fill the international community with confidence Scotland is a pragmatic independent EU member state in waiting”.

He added: “I don’t pretend to have any answers to the dilemma the SNP finds itself in regarding indyref2...Appealing to a body that is not at all equipped to take a position... would not fill the international community with confidence Scotland is a pragmatic independent EU member state in waiting.”