The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
UK Squabbles: Scotland Wants Out?

It’s game on in the UK. A legal report released today by the British government argues that if Scotland votes for independence, it will have to renegotiate its membership in the EU and other international organizations. Scottish independence advocates were understandably aggravated. The NYT reports:

“For the U.K. government to argue that the U.K. will be a ‘continuing state’ and that an independent Scotland would have no rights betrays a near colonial attitude to Scotland’s position as a nation and gives lie to any suggestion that they see Scotland as an equal partner in the U.K.,” [said] Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s pro-independence deputy first minister.

Meanwhile, as Scotland inches closer to the 2014 independence referendum, other semi-autonomous groups across the EU are taking note. If Scotland achieves independence, the secession bug could prove contagious.

The referendum deal was solidified last year, after months of negotiations between UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Salmond has long argued that independence would benefit Scotland’s economy, which he says is in better shape than the UK’s (if revenues from North Sea oil and gas are included).

But renegotiating international standing will not be easy, especially if Scotland doesn’t want to join the Eurozone. Clearly, the Scots need to have this coming referendum, if only to find out what they really think about a union that is now more than 300 years old. We hope the Kingdom stays united, but above all we hope that the referendum result is decisive enough so that the issue goes away.  Separatist sentiment is strong in pockets across the EU, and activists will be watching the Scottish movement. It’s not good for anyone to have the prospect of secession continually in view.

[Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.]

Published on February 11, 2013 3:17 pm