Page last updated at 13:07 GMT, Thursday, 13 December 2012

Scottish Parliament

Alex Salmond insisted it is "overwhelmingly in the interests of the European Union to have Scotland as a member", as the opposition leaders all questioned him on the issue of an independent Scotland's future EU membership, during first minister's questions on 13 December 2012.

Mr Salmond was responding to criticism from Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont who said he had asserted and independent Scotland would be in Europe and would be part of a sterling zone, "without ever asking anybody".

Earlier this week the president of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said in a BBC interview that a newly independent part of a member state would need to apply for EU membership.

Ms Lamont went on to mock the "fantasy world the first minister now inhabits".

She claimed that Mr Salmond, his Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Finance Secretary John Swinney were not leading but "misleading Scotland" about what would happen if it was to become independent.

The first minister hit back saying "no serious person across this continent would try to exclude Scotland" from the EU.

He added: "The point is, negotiations would be held from within the context of the European Union."

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the first minister and finance secretary had been "spanked and sent to bed" by the EC president and Bank of England.

But Mr Salmond said disagreeing with the EC president is not unknown.

"David Cameron said yesterday 'I don't agree with President Barroso', at Prime Minister's Questions. That seemed to me a perfectly reasonable statement."

Conservatives have been disagreeing with the EC for years because some want to leave the EU, Mr Salmond said.

Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, asked when the first minister would meet the 27 countries in the EU to find out what they would want in return for agreeing to an independent Scotland's membership in the EU.

Mr Salmond accused Mr Rennie of having scaremongered over the euro and of "reducing the debate to a level worthy of a party that has five members".

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