Theresa May’s vision of sealing a Brexit deal with the EU in two years is “unrealistic”, according to Britain’s top European official.
Jacqueline Minor also said an independent Scotland would have to reapply to become a member of the Brussels bloc but added the process would “not be too difficult”.
Ms Minor, the head of representation for the European Commission in the UK, claimed both the EU and the UK are under pressure to agree because both “recognise a disorderly exit would be bad for everybody.”
But she added: “It is unrealistic, I think, and everybody in Brussels thinks, to assume that the kind of partnership about which Mrs May talked at Lancaster House and which forms the substance of the white paper, to assume that kind of partnership can be agreed within the two year period.
“At best there will be the same sort of thing that we saw in February, a statement from the heads of government and heads of state saying: ‘This is what in principle we are aiming for as the framework for our future relations.'”
Asked by The Courier about the prospect of an independent Scotland being part of the EU, Ms Minor pointed out that the likes of Montenegro and Bosnia waiting for membership.
She said: “Were Scotland to become independent they would join that list. Now it might be easier for an independent Scotland to meet those criteria, the alignment 1021of the acquis for example, where all legislation has to be in line with European rules.
“It would presumably not be too difficult for Scotland compared to, say, Montenegro.”
There would also be a requirement to both tackle the large deficit which it is predicted the country would have if there was a yes vote and sign up to the prospect of joining the Euro, Ms Minor added.
Labour’s Europe spokesman Lewis McDonald said: “As the SNP was repeatedly told during the referendum campaign, an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the EU like any other country.”
An SNP spokesman said: “This is a remarkably selective account of Ms Minor’s speech given that she demolished many of the bogus arguments used by the No campaign in 2014 around EU membership.”