If Scotland voted for independence, it would probably apply to rejoin the EU. Despite its unique history, it would have to follow the normal path to EU accession, says Anthony Salamone. Scots are not keen on the euro and fisheries would be a flashpoint. While the Scottish government would be well-advised not to seek opt-outs of the kind the UK had, Scotland would have the potential to become a successful EU member.
Independence is perennially high on the Scottish political agenda – and Brexit has cemented its salience. The Scottish government is currently seeking the transfer of power from Westminster to hold another independence referendum. Although the UK government has to date simply refused, the argument over another vote will continue until either it is resolved or the next Holyrood election takes place in May 2021.
Over the months ahead, the independence debate will only intensify. Even in the absence of Brexit, Scotland’s relationship with the European Union has long been a cornerstone of discussion. If Scotland were to vote for independence in a future referendum, what would the road to EU membership look like?
In the first instance, it is not predestined that an independent Scotland would apply to join the EU. A minority in the independence movement favours a Norway-style relationship of membership of the European Free Trade Association and participation in the European Economic Area. Some supporters of independence also voted for Brexit – and might wish for Scotland to have an equally distant relationship with the EU.
However, the Scottish electorate as a whole has endorsed EU membership on multiple occasions. It voted decisively to remain part of the EU in the 2016 referendum. In last May’s European elections, 71 per cent of the popular vote in Scotland went to pro-EU parties, and 90 per cent of Scotland’s MPs elected last month favoured staying in the EU. On balance, it is probable that a clear majority of people in Scotland would support rejoining the EU.
Scotland’s prospective candidacy for EU membership would be completely novel in two respects. First, it was previously part of the EU for 47 years. Second, it was a constituent of an EU member state, rather than a member state in its own right. While the former would facilitate a faster accession process, the latter would necessitate significant domestic preparations.
Formal independence would have to be achieved before Scotland could submit its application to the European Council. The process of its separation from the rest of the UK (rUK) could realistically take around 2-3 years after an independence referendum, during which period Scotland’s relationship with the EU would continue to be governed by the EU-UK partnership. The EU and Scotland could conclude an Association Agreement on their relationship after Scotland became independent and presumably exited the EU-UK partnership. Provided that the EU, rUK and Scotland all consented, it is possible that discussions on this agreement could take place during the transition to independence.
Scotland would apply for EU membership in the normal way, under the procedure set out in Article 49 TEU. While in 2014 it was debated whether Scotland could instead become a member state by simply amending the EU treaties under Article 48, such ‘internal enlargement’ would not be possible since Scotland will now be a third country (and in any case it was never clear that the EU would have agreed to this special route).
The essential objective for the government of Scotland would be to advocate an acceleration of the process while still following the prescribed modalities of accession. Scotland is a European nation with an advanced democracy and a developed free-market economy. It should meet the political and economic dimensions of the Copenhagen criteria fairly straightforwardly. Its greatest task would be to demonstrate the institutional capacity to carry out the functions and responsibilities of membership.
Future enlargement of the EU is a notable topic of debate at present. France has been vocal in reiterating its desire to reform the EU’s political institutions before allowing new members. Potential reforms of the process are being discussed, although Germany and the European Commission among others remain supportive of continuing to advance the perspectives of Western Balkan candidate countries like Albania and North Macedonia.
How would an independent Scotland seeking to join the EU fit into this reassessment of enlargement? It could present itself as a well-prepared candidate with robust democratic institutions, strong public consensus for EU membership and a high degree of existing compliance with the EU acquis. With good strategy, the government of Scotland would be in a favourable position to persuade the member states to enable its accession process.
Scotland’s journey to EU membership would be deeply linked with the construction of the Scottish state. In the post-referendum transition and formative years of independence, it would establish government departments (such as a department for European and external affairs) and state architecture such as a comprehensive system of taxation, a central bank and a competition agency. It would also ensure a stable basis for UK parliament legislation remaining in Scots law and undo whatever divergence from EU law had taken place during the Brexit era. These measures would all be direct or indirect requirements for EU membership. Excellent domestic preparations would facilitate more expeditious accession negotiations.
Like any EU candidate country, Scotland would have its priorities for the negotiations. The government of Scotland would probably seek a special arrangement on the Schengen Area in order to maintain the Common Travel Area between Ireland, Scotland and rUK. In the post-Brexit context, it is difficult to imagine the EU granting a treaty-level opt-out, but perhaps a model of deferred participation could be agreed.
As an obligation of membership, Scotland would have to make a good faith commitment to join the euro. However, despite its pro-European sentiment, the euro is remarkably unpopular in Scotland. Opinion polls suggest that only 18 per cent of people believe that an independent Scotland should take up the single currency. Committing to the euro would therefore be politically challenging. The currency is a highly salient issue in the independence debate and reflects the strong economic focus which pervades Scottish and British politics. Nevertheless, Scotland would have to confront the political and strategic consequences of not being part of the eurozone, given it has increasingly become the locus for future integration.
Fisheries is another emotive issue, with the Common Fisheries Policy disliked by Scottish fishing communities, particularly in the North East of the country. It would be awkward for the government to simply sign up to the policy unchanged. Scotland might also look for transitional provisions on national fiscal and budgetary standards.
A recurring question is how long Scotland’s EU accession process would take. Considering its current political and economic institutions and its previous relationship with the EU, Scotland’s accession would probably take around 4-5 years. By comparison, Finland took about 3 years to join the EU – but it was already an independent state and part of the European Economic Area.
The EU now has more members than in previous enlargement rounds. As a result, the process of national ratifications of an accession treaty takes longer. For Croatia, the most recent accession country, it took 15 months from first to last ratification. Ultimately, the speed of the accession process for Scotland would depend upon its own approach, the attitudes of the member states and the assessments of the European Commission as the Union negotiator.
Scotland would be a European small state. Consistent pro-EU electoral support demonstrates its mainstream Europeanism, which would enable Scotland to conduct a more positive EU membership than the UK. Indeed, Scotland could only become a successful EU member state by jettisoning the UK’s confrontational approach to the EU and instead defining itself as a constructive co-constituent of the European project. The government of Scotland would therefore be well advised not to expend its political capital on arguing for a special accession process or opt-outs which it would be extremely unlikely to secure. Instead, it would be best placed to ensure a beneficial accession by advocating its positions within the existing rules and prioritising negotiation objectives which would be deliverable.
At the moment, Scotland’s debate on independence and the EU is focused on a narrow set of issues (such as whether Scotland could join at all, how long it would take and whether its budget deficit is too high), largely ignoring the actual challenges and choices which the country would face. This debate must now be expanded to encompass the full range of issues at stake, including Scotland’s European interests, its potential negotiation priorities and its proposed contributions to the future of Europe. An independent Scotland would have the potential to be a successful EU member state – but it would have to significantly widen its horizons.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Brexit blog, nor LSE.
If Scotland secedes from the Union then it is going to have to identity an alternative currency as it has already been stated that it will not be allowed to continue to use Sterling, in addition, I do not believe that the EU would necessarily roll out the red carpet to yet another “country” that relies on subsidies for its day to day administration.
Scotland can use any currency it likes, including sterling – just as a few countries use the US dollar, or a new one. The UK government does not ‘own’ the use of sterling – and only has input into features such as interest rates.
Sterling is an institution of the UK. Leave the UK, leave the institution.
Yes, iScotland could use sterling informally, like some countries use the dollar. However, not a single one of those countries is an economic model that Scottish voters would choose to emulate.
Furthermore, if informal use of the £ is the “plan”, then the entire Scottish Finance Industry has to relocate between a Yes vote & Independence Day, or face being wiped out by rUK-based competitors taking all their clients because they still enjoy a credible Lender of Last Resort, unlike any firms based in iScotland. And, no, the rUK will not give a Scottish firm a backstop if they only move their brass nameplate.
Finance is the largest private sector onshore industry in Scotland. When it leaves, it takes 10% of Scottish GDP & support for 1-in-12 jobs with it.
Bottom line is that if Slovakia and Croatia are acceptable inside the EU as newish nation states carved out of old ones, so also would be Scotland. Yes, there would be shuffling about with Spain over Catalonia and agonising over whether to reach a decision in principle before an Indyref2, but in the end…
Czechoslovakia ceased to exist, so there really is no comparison.
Furthermore, Slovakia & Croatia weren’t fast-tracked. AFTER they had their written consitutions, central banks, currencies with stable exchange rates & border control institutions in place, it still toke them a decade to navigate the application process.
Spain views Catalan separatism as an existential threat, and any special treatment provided to Scotland will result in Puigdemont campaigning on the idea that Catalonia will get the same advantages. He won’t forbear from seizing this magnificent opportunity to gather more support because you make fine distinctions between their situation and ours.
So what benefit would Spain get from agreeing to establish the fast-track precedent that outweighs the cost of make an existential threat worse?
Admission of a new member requires the unanimous consent of all the existing members. They’ll approve Scotland getting special treatment if it is in their national interests to do so. So, are there any who are likely to take a dim view? Remember – it only takes one.
Obviously, Spain & Belgium come straight to the front of the discussion. The national governments of both see separatism as an existential threat. And any special treatment given to Scotland will lead to every continental separatist movement attracting new supporters by claiming that they’ll get the same.
Some will attempt to draw legalistic distinctions between Scotland, Catalonia, & Flanders, but Puigdemont & the N-VA will not be inclined to spurn the greatest fillip they could imagine because of a hair-splitting argument.
With that in mind, what is the cost/benefit analysis for the national governments of Spain & Belgium? Cost = escalation of an existential threat. Benefit = enhanced reputation as “good Europeans”.
Obviously, they’ll never go for it, as it isn’t in their interests to do so.
What would serve their interests very nicely is to see to it that Scotland’s application is slow-walked for a generation, to demonstrate to others that the economic & political consequences of independence are profound and anyone thinking about going down that route had better be prepared for life-changing negative consequences.
Now that the logic of this piece has been dealt with, let’s move on to some of the details.
In reality Scotland would be one of the worst-prepared applicants ever, because no matter how pro-European its INTENTIONS might be, it would have no way of demonstrating that it is actually CAPABLE of implementing the ‘acquis’. As a brand new country it won’t have any track-record of budgetary propriety, exchange rate harmonisation, central bank independence, etc.
13 countries have joined the EU this century. On average the process took a decade, and those countries all had their written constitutions, central banks, currencies, budgeting process & border control institutions in place BEFORE they applied.
You imply that Scotland would seek opt-outs from the Euro & the CFP. I advise you to review the recent statements from Guy Verhofstadt about how tailored accommodations are a thing of the past now that the UK has gone.
And, finally: the economy of England + Wales is substantial. It is bigger than that of 2/3s of the EU members combined. At present, any goods therein can be driven into Scotland with no records being kept. The possibility that this won’t be an issue is zero.
Excellent response, John. Sturgeon and the SNP are living in cloud-cuckoo land. It does not mean though, that they are guaranteed to lose another independence referendum. The case for the Union needs to be trumpeted loud and clear. Boris had better be up to the job, for the sake of all the people of Scotland.
Thank you. The Scottish Nationalist propagandists all insist that Scotland will sail into the EU because they think that somehow makes up for the total absence of any kind of a credible plan for the post-independence economy.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the rUK market is more important for Scotland’s producers than the ROW combined.
What they are proposing is madness.
The Spanish government is already on record as saying that they have no objection to Scotland joining the EU. They would in fact probably enjoy such a rebuff to England.
The EU have also said that they would welcome an independent Scotland.
So much for your Unionist propaganda..
The Spanish Government has never said any such thing. In one interview with Politico the Spanish Foreign Minister he indicated that they would not stop Scotland from APPLYING. That’s as far as they’ve ever gone.
When the Spanish Consul in Edinburgh later went further and said that Spain would welcome Scotland’s MEMBERSHIP, he was sacked on the spot.
“They would in fact probably enjoy such a rebuff to England.”
Ridiculous. Foreign policy is about furthering national interests, not behaving like a child. Special treatment for Scotland will give encouragement to Catalan & Basque separatists. What benefit would Spain get that outweighs such a substantial negative?
“The EU have also said that they would welcome an independent Scotland.”
Firstly, they have not. Secondly, it isn’t a matter for Brussels to decide. Admission of a new member requires the approval of every single national government.
Excellent article but fails to address WHAT DOES EU GAIN if Scotland joins ?
Would Scotland’s spending deficit not pose any issues for EU membership? Especially Euro membership, if that is a condition for new joiners.
Scotland would also be in a similar position to EU countries on the far reaches of Europe: It would need to construct a robust border with a 3rd country (England and Wales). This would require significant infrastructure. Is this not an issue?
I found the article interesting, not just for its application to Scotland, but to the whole UK if it ever chooses to rejoin.
The whole debate in the comments parallels the Brexit debate. On the one side, breezy confidence about Scotland being able to use whatever currency it wants to use and at the same time be waved through into the EU without making any concessions. On the other side, dire warnings of collapse of the whole Scottish finance industry. Since I’m not an expert, I expect the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes, but where exactly is hard to say. It would be nice of people would learn from the Brexit debate and argue in a more rational way, but I’m not sure they will.
The fundamental cause of Scottish Nationalism is not Brexit, but the detachment felt by many Scots from Westminster politics. Looking at the general election results of the last 15 years, and how the result in Scotland differs from the overall UK result, you can understand this, and why many Scots want to “take back control”. Boris Johnson can (and I think should) refuse a second independence referendum now, but it cannot be denied for ever, if support for independence in Scotland remains at current levels. Those of us who are attached to both the UK and Scotland’s place in it need to work out how to change the UK to make it something to which the Scottish want to belong. Threats of Armageddon after independence are unlikely to work, and are often insulting. (I don’t want to read anything more about how those lazy profligate Scots would all be bankrupt if they weren’t subsidised by the hard-working English.)
“The fundamental cause of Scottish Nationalism is not Brexit, but the detachment felt by many Scots from Westminster politics.”
Absolutely spot-on. Jonathan Haidt’s insight, that we humans are driven by emotion and use logic and morality to justify our emotional decision-making, is helpful here (https://positivepsychology.com/johnathan-haidt). I suggest that emotion drove the Brexit debate (on both sides), and emotion drives the Scottish nationalists. They need to justify that rationally, hence the desire to paint the English as foreign and hostile/indifferent.
The question is, how to defeat this? I wonder if Canada’s experiences with Quebecois nationalism holds any lessons for us? Any thoughts, anyone?
“dire warnings of collapse of the whole Scottish finance industry.”
It wouldn’t collapse. It would leave, to resettle in the UK. The main business of the Scottish finance industry is management of assets, and their main market is the rUK. Can you imagine a Welsh SME sending its monthly pension contributions to Denmark to be managed under their laws & currency? No. Well, they’ll be similarly dubious about Scottish firms after Scotland becomes a foreign country.
Moreover, the size of the Scottish Finance industry relative to the rest of the Scottish economy is a problem. It has assets under management valued at 1200% of Scottish GDP. Currently it enjoys a credible backstop in the form of the BoE providing a LOLR. After independence Scotland will not be able to provide such a facility. That isn’t just my surmise – it is stated explicitly in the Growth Commission Report. Therefore, all the firms that remain in Scotland will suffer a devastating loss of competitiveness vis a vis firms in the rUK that can still reassure clients that they won’t be wiped out in the next GFC. So, they’ll have a choice – move to the UK, lock-stock-and-barrel, or go out of business.
“(I don’t want to read anything more about how those lazy profligate Scots would all be bankrupt if they weren’t subsidised by the hard-working English.)”
It has nothing to do with laziness. As Nicola Sturgeon herself told Alex Neil in a Sunday Politics interview, Scotland generates about the same tax per capita as the rUK. However, services cost much more to provide in Scotland, because of the challenging geography.
Whenever oil is <$100, this structural deficit becomes painfully visible. And no one advocating independence has any idea how to deal with it.
“Can you imagine a Welsh SME sending its monthly pension contributions to Denmark to be managed under their laws & currency?” Assuming the worst case (of “no-deal” independence) I suppose any company managing pension contributions for the rUK would need to have a business address within the rUK, and satisfy rUK accounting and reporting requirements. I don’t see why that should stop it keeping the vast majority of its operations in Scotland.
If an independent Scotland were accepted back into the EU, I suppose they would also profit from providing financial services to other European countries. One could imagine some financial services companies in London which do a lot of business with Europe finding it profitable to move their operations north.
As for the LOLR point, I don’t know how essential the Bank of England is to the Scottish economy. We might compare Scotland with Iceland, which had its financial crisis in 2008 but has managed to recover from it.
(1) There is no option of “no-deal” independence. iScotland cannot come into being without an Act of Parliament authorising it.
(2) The rUK will not be so naive to take on the considerable risk of providing a LOLR facility to a firm because they have a brass nameplate in the UK but leave the bulk of their operations – and thus the economic benefit of those operations – in a foreign country, which is what iScotland would be.
(3) The Scottish Finance industry has had access to the EU for decades and yet “providing financial services to other European countries” is only a miniscule part of what it does. It isn’t going to suddenly become a powerhouse in that sector.
(4) Any Europhile firms looking for a new jurisdication would already have gone to Euro-using Eire years before independence.
(5) The Scottish Finance industry would not exist if the BoE backstop did not cover it. And that industry is the largest onshore private sector employer in Scotland, providing 10% of Scottish GDP & supporting, directly or indirectly, 1-in-12 jobs in Scotland. A different country with a different set of circumstances is irrelevant to the analysis.
“The rUK will not be so naive to take on the considerable risk of providing a LOLR facility to a firm because they have a brass nameplate in the UK but leave the bulk of their operations – and thus the economic benefit of those operations – in a foreign country” When I telephone my British bank, I usually am answered by somebody sitting in India. It would not in the least surprise me if the British bank also has outsourced large parts of its IT to India and does a lot of its other back-office work in other jurisdictions. Banking these days is international.
I do not think there is any magical LOLR facility. My understanding of what happens is that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gets a telephone call from the CEO of Reckless Bank plc that the cash machines will stop working in 3 hours unless emergency credit is provided. The Chancellor then has to decide whether he or she least dislikes forking out the cash to rescue Reckless or a major banking crisis. Whether Reckless has employees in London, Edinburgh or Bangalore, may be somewhat relevant to this decision, but it won’t be the most important factor.
Alias, you are talking to employees of an Indian firm that your British bank has subcontracted its call centre work to. That firm is in India, pays its taxes in India, is not actually in the business of banking, and is certainly not back-stopped by the BoE.
You can be as dismissive as the LOLR as you like. At the end of the day, that Welsh SME will have the choice of trusting its pension fund to a UK firm backed by one, or a Scottish firm that is not. No prudent manager would chose the later; that is why the Scottish Finance industry will leave Scotland between a Yes vote & Independence Day.
Bravo, sir! This is magical thinking of the highest order. It’s all ifs, buts and maybes.
The big ‘if’ I would like explored, is, if an independent Scotland has 10-20% wiped off its GDP in the first year of ‘independence’ (as seems *extremely* likely), why would the EU want to touch it with a barge pole? NONE of the net beneficiaries will agree to its accession. Also, if economic Armageddon hits Scotland, do you really think the government is going to have the resources to set up all the agencies you blithely say will be required to fast-track Scotland’s application? Moreover, regardless of the economic outcome, do you really think, looking at the quality of the MSPs who will have to pilot this, that Scotland has the talent pool to effectively set those agencies up in the first place? Would they even know where to begin with setting up a new currency? Mark my words, EU accession will take decades, if ever.
Wow. Some very “hard unionist logic” on here. Firstly, an interesting and good article. There will be challenges for Scotland in rejoining the EU, of that there is no doubt. There will be an accession process – again, no-one has ever disputed that. When you go to the EU and the Parliament in Brussles – I have – there is a very strong sense that people understand Scotland’s different perspective to the EU than that of the rUK. Would the EU be keen to accept one of the EU’s largest energy producing nations back as a member? (we have 25% of the EU’s entire tidal energy production capability remember). You bet they would. Would Spain be keen to have their fishermen allowed back into Scottish waters on an agreed basis – whilst simultaneously opening back up the EU market for Scottish fresh goods? Without doubt.
Would the much-vanuted LOLR (currently the Bank of England) be a problem? Here’s why it won’t be.
Please speak to those who run some of the largest Asset Management firms in Scotland and the world – again, I have. Scotland OWNS part of the Bank of England. If the BoE were to seek to be difficult as Scotland establishes its own Cental Bank (they won’t be for the reason I mentioned, but they also have a track record of being helpful to other Central Banks and in this instance there would be huge self-interest), they would simply be cutting their own nose off to spite their face. Again, that’s not reality. The truth is that the BoE would play its part in the transition as Scotland sets up it’s own systems.
Scotland would also have to sign-up, in principle, to agree to use the Euro at some point. The actual point at which that process is triggered, however, would be entirely down to Scotland. See this on Sweden:
“Sweden joined the European Union in 1995 and its accession treaty has since obliged it to adopt the euro once the country is found to comply with all the convergence criteria. However, one of the requirements for eurozone membership is two years’ membership of ERM II, and Sweden has chosen not to join this mechanism, which would peg the Swedish currency to the euro ±2.25%. The Swedish krona (SEK) floats freely alongside other currencies. Most of Sweden’s major parties believe that it would be in the national interest to join, but they have all pledged to abide by the result of the referendum.
The EU has accepted that Sweden is staying outside the eurozone on its own decision. Olli Rehn, the EU commissioner for economic affairs has said that this is up to Swedish people to decide.” (Wikipedia reference)
Remember too, for every job that exists in Scotland that is dependent on trade with England, the same (at least) applies in reverse. Remember too that global investors look at the stability of an economy based upon many factors. Please listen to people like Jim Rogers on currency & Scotland – he’s on YouTube. The reason you don’t often hear this kind of clarity is that folk like that don’t want to get into political debates. As he makes clear, and as it stands, most global funders are happy to back the UK because £sterling is backed by something they regard as tangible (and excluding the whole climate crisis discussion for a moment), that means Oil. So, rUK minus Scotland (which produces c. 96% of UK Oil & c. 60% of UK Gas) suddenly looks like a very different place. Under those circumstances, rUK’s capacity to repay its own debt looks very difficult. That alone would force even the most dogmatic, idealogically-driven, right-wing UK Govt to negotiate a sensible settlement. The idea that Scotland would be “cap in hand” to Westminster is nonsensical and simply follows the same logic that tries to show that Scotland is somehow uniquely incapable of forming and running it’s own affairs.
Other facts that either aren’t known, or are widely ignored, include: Scotland has 90% of the UK fresh water supply; 62% of UK seafood landings & 40% of UK wind, wave & solar energy prodcution (currently). It is alos interesting to note that when you look at the entire geographical area that is Scotland and include maritime, you will see that Scotland’s entire geogrpahy makes up an area that is 542,323 km2 (80,060 km2 land + 462,263 km2 maritime), whereas England’s (notably) is 360,361 km2 (130,395 km2 land + 229,966 km2 maritime).
The ultimate truth is that an iScotland and rUK would have to negotiate a sensible agreement all round. Of course we would seek to collaborate and work with our closest partner and neighbour – particularly on matters where there are common interests – but the very same is true in reverse. The idea that you have to hand all political control to your neighbour on all the major issues facing your society in order to have a good relationship shows a particularly skewed perspective on the world. It’s also not true.
That was also the lie peddled by Brexiteers (they claimed the EU had too much political control); yet none of them could point to a piece of EU legislation that prevented them from doing anything that they wanted. On the other hand, Scotland has zero say over many of the most important parts of what creates our society – defence, international relations, global trade, macro-economic decisions etc. For example, I don’t remember the EU ever forcing the UK into a war that it didn’t believe in?
The EU is also a project aimed at global cooperation and was founded upon the principle of ensuring peace. We may agree that reforms are required within the EU; but those are only delivered by being part of the discussions and round that table. Scotland has a lot to contribute to all those discussions; we may even help shine the light for rUK’s accession back into the EU.
Some final questions – IF (as many uniionists love to try to say) Scotland is generating a so-called deficit (which is hilarious for a Parliament that can’t borrow yet!), then surely that’s the best argument for changing the current arrangement between the nations of the UK? Furthermore, IF Scotland is such an economic basket-case (it isn’t), and rUK voted to leave the EU in part to save £9bn p.a., then why would it seek to retain something that unionists allege COSTS the rUK £14bn p.a. (their numbers, not mine)? It is simply not sustainable, or credible, to claim that Scotland keeps costing the UK, yet preventing even the question (Indyref2) being asked that could – and will – provide the solution. Nor is it credible for the UK Treasury to not allow access to their figures and how they calculate their entirely false numbers re: Scotland.
Final thought – latest polling shows that for those under 50, those supporting independence for Scotland are at around 65% (18-24 – 62%; 25-49 – 67%). So, by every measure, those that have the MOST skin in this particular game, are already signed up to making it a success. C’mon – those on the “less sure” side of this discussion – get on board and let’s make this new Scotland a roaring success at a European and Global level. (FYI – when modelled against all countries in the world, Scotland is exactly in the middle in terms of size (population) and economy – it is literally the “mid-point” so would be the new definition of “medium-sized”).
EH: you put forward a long and interesting case. You seem to know more about these things than I do, so I argue at a disadvantage, but I will put the points which I find dubious and let you expand on them.
“Would the EU be keen to accept one of the EU’s largest energy producing nations back as a member? (we have 25% of the EU’s entire tidal energy production capability remember). You bet they would. ” I’m not going to bet, but you are asking the people of Scotland to. I suppose the EU probably would accept Scotland back as a member, but given the time scales involved and the fact that every single EU member could veto the accession, I find it hard to say it’s a racing certainty.
“most global funders are happy to back the UK because £sterling is backed by something they regard as tangible (and excluding the whole climate crisis discussion for a moment), that means Oil” I wonder what evidence there is for that. For example do UK sovereign debt risks correlate with oil prices?
“The ultimate truth is that an iScotland and rUK would have to negotiate a sensible agreement all round.” I really wish I believed this, because it’s just the same as the claim made about a UK-EU deal being the “easiest in history” by the Brexiteers before the EU referendum. Alas, just because two parties have a strong interest in doing a deal, it does not follow that they will.
“Scotland would also have to sign-up, in principle, to agree to use the Euro at some point. ” The big problem as I see it is that Scotland has first to get its own currency. (I don’t see how a long-term currency union with the rUK is going to work.) I think that maybe can be done by starting with a Scottish currency pegged to the rUK currency and gradually relaxing the peg. But it might take decades before the Scottish currency was truly independent, because each time the peg was relaxed you would want to avoid capital flight in either direction, so the relaxation would have to be very gradual. And during this time Scotland would be part of a currency union which would inevitably be dominated by the rUK. (The Bank of England may be Good Chaps but I don’t see them allowing Scotland a veto on interest rate decisions, for example).
“On the other hand, Scotland has zero say over many of the most important parts of what creates our society – defence, international relations, global trade, macro-economic decisions etc. ” This is like saying (for example) the City of Cambridge has zero say, because it hasn’t elected an MP of the same party as the government since (I think) 1992. Actually the people of Scotland have almost exactly the same say as those everywhere else. As for taking the country to war, if the 2003 Iraq war is the war you mean (I presume it is), this was with a Prime Minister born and educated in Edinburgh, (and of course various other important cabinet members from Scotland) so this was not a purely English government.
“This is like saying (for example) the City of Cambridge has zero say, because it hasn’t elected an MP of the same party as the government since (I think) 1992.” Sorry, I must have had a severe brain blackout when I typed that. Of course Cambridge was represented by Anne Campbell (Labour) from 1997 to 2005 and Julian Huppert (Lib Dem) from 2010 to 2015, both therefore supporting the government of the day.
Some good responses above. To be honest, I couldn’t give a stuff what happens to Scotland if it decides to secede from the rest of the UK. the EU is not going to let yet another economic basket case join, because that is what Scotland is, without being over subsidised by the rest of the UK it would not have the finances to bribe Scottish voters to vote the way it wants them all to do.