Scotland is leaving the European Union (EU) whether or not it becomes an independent state, according to British Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell.
"The Scottish government are in exactly the same position they were in before the 2014 referendum - arguing for an independent Scotland that would face an uncertain process applying to join the EU as a new member state,” Mundell will tell the Scottish parliament on Wednesday, according to an advance copy of his speech.
"There is no set of circumstances in which Scotland could remain a member of the EU after the rest of the UK has left," he will say.
Mundell’s comments are bound to anger the pro-independence Scottish government as it is talking of holding a fresh referendum to separate from the United Kingdom unless it can stay in the EU’s single market.
Voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland chose to stay in the EU in the June 23, 2016 referendum when the rest of the UK voted to leave the 28-member bloc.
The devolved Scottish government says the Scottish people are being forced out of the EU against their wishes. It argues that Scotland should have a choice on its future without the UK.
Scotland held a referendum in September 2014, when over 55 percent of the people voted against independence. The ruling Scottish National Party (SNP) is pushing for a second independence referendum, arguing that circumstances have significantly changed since the Brexit vote.
But the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May says Scotland should not launch a new independence referendum and that the Scottish people have already voiced their opposition to seceding from the UK over Brexit.
In response to Mundell’s comments, a Scottish government spokesperson said, "Scotland faces being dragged out of Europe against its will by a Tory (Conservative) government with just one MP out of 59 in Scotland, but that MP – David Mundell – seems totally oblivious to the irony of him seeking to lay down the law on what should happen next."
Prime Minister May has promised to begin the Brexit process in March and complete it by 2019. The EU has warned that Britain would have less than 18 months to reach a deal to exit the bloc once Brexit negotiations begin.