The SNP is not the only political party that wants to rejoin the EU

15 February 2024
What was claimed

The SNP is the only political party committed to rejoining the EU.

Our verdict

Incorrect. A number of other political parties, such as the Green Party, the Scottish Green Party, Alliance and Plaid Cymru, have also said they support rejoining the EU, though their exact policies and timelines vary. The Liberal Democrats say rejoining the EU is the party’s “longer-term objective”.

The SNP remains the only party committed to rejoining the EU and the world’s largest single market.

Last week, in a quote given to the Daily Record, the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Europe spokesperson Alyn Smith MP claimed the SNP is “the only party” which is committed to rejoining the European Union (EU). 

Mr Smith was responding to former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, who said that she had voted for the SNP in the 2019 European parliamentary elections, the first since the 2016 referendum, because she was “so mad about Brexit”. 

Mr Smith said Ms Dugdale had “backed the SNP as the only pro-EU party in the UK”, before continuing: “The SNP remains the only party committed to rejoining the EU and the world’s largest single market.”

The SNP does support an independent Scotland rejoining the EU, and has said it is committed to “rejoining the EU as soon as possible”. 

However, it is not the only political party in the UK, or even in Scotland, that supports rejoining, though the precise policies of different parties vary.

When we asked Mr Smith about his claim, he said: “The SNP is the only major UK party in Scotland with a plan to escape broken Brexit Britain.” He added: “SNP MPs will press for the closest possible relationship with the EU—and we’ll seek full EU membership as an independent country.” 

Politicians should ensure that claims they make about other political parties are accurate and provide any necessary context to their claims. False or misleading claims about political parties have the potential to affect people’s opinions of individuals, parties or how they choose to vote. 

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Political parties’ views on the EU

The Conservatives and Labour don’t want the UK to rejoin the EU. 

The Scottish Greens, who hold two ministerial positions in the Scottish Government as part of a power-sharing agreement with the SNP, also want an independent Scotland to rejoin the European Union. The Green Party of England and Wales has said it wants the UK to rejoin the EU “when the conditions are right”. 

Similarly, Northern Irish political party Alliance says that “when the time is right, we will seek to rejoin the EU”, while Welsh political party Plaid Cymru says its “longer-term aspiration is for an independent Wales to join the European Union”, though this would be “subject to a future referendum after the achievement of independence”. 

The Green Party of England and Wales, Alliance and Plaid Cymru all have at least one elected MP in Westminster.

While Scottish political party Alba does not currently have any directly elected candidates, it is represented at both Westminster and Holyrood due to defections from former SNP politicians. 

Alba has said it wants an independent Scotland to join the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area, which it says would “enable Scotland to negotiate to become a full member of the EU in due course if the people of Scotland so choose”. 

The Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey said in September 2023 that rejoining the EU was “currently not on the table”, but the Liberal Democrats’ website, as of 7 February 2024, states that the party’s “longer-term objective” is “EU membership”. 

A four-stage road map for the UK’s trading relationship with Europe, published on the Liberal Democrats’ website, includes as its fourth stage: “Once the trading relationship between the UK and the EU is deepened, and the ties of trust and friendship are renewed, aim to place the UK–EU relationship on a more formal and stable footing by seeking to join the Single Market.”

The website of the Scottish Liberal Democrats—a “state party” of the Liberal Democrats—also says the party supports “collaboration with the UK’s neighbours—including, ultimately, rejoining the EU”. 

When we asked the Scottish Liberal Democrats if the party supports rejoining the EU, a spokesperson said it did. When we asked the UK-wide Liberal Democrats, a spokesperson told us the party’s policy was to “gradually rebuild relations” through the four-stage road map, adding: “These are essential first steps towards our longer-term objective of EU membership.”

Image courtesy of Christian Lue.

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