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by a Newsnet reporter

The Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, José Manuel García-Margallo, yesterday characterised as "absolutely false" reports in the British media that Spain would veto Scottish membership of the EU.  The report had been originally published in the London based Independent, and repeated by a number of other news outlets.

Citing unnamed British officials, the Independent reported that Spanish officials had expressed their disquiet over the possibility of Scottish independence to their British counterparts, and suggested that if Scotland voted for independence then Spain would veto Scots membership of the EU.  

The report claimed that Spain would exercise its veto in case Scottish independence set a precedent for Catalunya and the Basque Country, where there are strong nationalist movements seeking independence from Spain.  

However in a statement at a press conference in Brussels yesterday Mr García-Margallo said that there was no truth at all in the Independent's report.  

The Spanish Foreign Minister gave an assurance that "in no instance" had the Spanish government expressed "any disquiet" to the British government over the question of Scottish independence.  He stated that the referendum in Scotland is an internal matter for the United Kingdom which would be resolved "in accordance with British constitutional norms, which have nothing to do with Spanish constitutional norms".

The Spanish constitution specifies that Spanish territory is indivisible, and that Spain is a single nation.  Centralists in the Madrid government make use of these provisions to deny that Catalunya or the Basque Country are nations with the right to self-determination.  Mr García-Margallo is a member of the centre right Partido Popular, which is fiercely opposed to Basque or Catalan self-determination.  However Mr García-Margallo acknowledged that the provisions of the Spanish constitution are unrelated to the constitutional status of Scotland within the UK.

Mr García-Margallo said:  "They are completely different processes between which parallels cannot be established and it would be inappropriate for us to express disquiet because a country decided to resolve a purely internal question in accordance with internal procedures."

Mr García-Margallo's denial that Spain will seek EU veto on an independent Scotland is just the latest in a series revelations that undermine Unionist scare stories.  Other scare stories include claims that the Edinburgh Zoo panda's will be removed from Scotland and threats to Scottish whisky.

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