Is there really a chance that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom?

Spain will do as it’s told by Germany and France. There’s no solid argument for keeping out an independent Scotland but admitting, say, frigging Macedonia.

The same way a hard border with the EU will be for a bunch of UK citizens? Yet it’s happening anyway.

I agree. But I also remember Spain objecting to Scottish independence during the referendum.

To add to the points made; yes, England, Wales and Scotland are all interlinked in economic terms. It would be a real mess to sort out, down to mundane things such as pensions. Westminster does in fact subsidize Scotland, and as for the oil, the prices are dropping and so is output.

One issue for England would be defense. Scotland is actually quite large, and would be unable to afford practically any sort of a military (like the Republic of Ireland, only more so). So it would be necessary to negotiate defense arrangements, essentially, to keep things as they are now.

While Scotland wants to stay in the EU, it is now out because the UK is out. As with the UK, if it applied it would have to go to the back of the queue, and also meet the criteria. It fails on the economic criteria. Also, financial independence would b illusory, as it would probably have to use the British pound. A good deal has been posted in the social media on this topic and explains it better and in more detail than I can.

And any applicant to join the EU must be endorsed by all the members. One “no” vote and that’s it, you’re out. France kept the UK out for years, mainly due to De Gaulle.

In short, the SNP might fight so hard for independence that they might get it - and then discover all the problems. Which sums up the Brexit as well.

The SNP has put forward its own rather rosy scenarios as to how Scotland could become a hi-tech or service industry powerhouse. Funny, but the Brexit crowd sound the same. Plagiarism? The problem is that other small countries, such as Estonia, have already gone the hi-tech route, and it takes a good deal of investment, which Scotland in all likelihood could not afford. Much the same same applies to making Scotland a financial center. And it cannot become a tax haven that easily, and in any case there are many other countries that have done that. So what are the Scots left with?

I think you remember wrongly. Spain’s position was that Scottish independence was a matter between the Scots and the UK. They could hardly adopt any other position on Scottish independence, could they?

Obviously, Spain was concerned that if indy Scotland were admitted to the EU, this might give heart to Catalonian separatists who would hope to follow the same course. But the EU is largely composed of states that secured their independence from a larger polity, sometimes peacefully and sometimes less so; the notion that such a history should then be a barrier to EU membership is not one that is going to find much support in the EU, and Spain would pay a huge dipomatic and political price for obstructing Scottish accession on grounds which most EU member states would see as wholly spurious.

Overwhelmingly, the EU would have strong political incentives to smooth the way for Scottish re-entry to the Union. While Spain would be able to veto that, the blowback would be such that, even in terms of discouraging the Catalonian independence movement, I think the move would be counterproductive. A far more canny strategy for Spain would be to argue the the Scottish and Catalonian cases are distinct.

Interesting article in the Guardian yesterday that the substantially better Scottish approach to Covid-19 is increasing support for Scottish independence:

“Substantially better” is a flattering description here. Scotland’s policies have been largely the same as rUK’s, and have had largely the same results. England has the highest excess mortality in Europe; Scotland has the third, and not a distant third either. Policies around, for example, care homes have been similar and similarly disastrous.

Over the past month, various regions of the country have had to go into local lockdown measures. These now cover c.31% of Scotland’s population which is getting to the point where “local” stops being the right word. In the last couple of days, both Scotland and England have introduced new restrictions preventing people from meeting in groups larger than 6, indoors or out. As we head into a wintry second wave, there isn’t much evidence that Scotland has a better grip of Covid than England does.

As the article states, the big difference is in government comms. Westminster’s have been shambolic; Holyrood’s have been very good. This is an important aspect of government competence but it just boils down to Holyrood doing a better job of explaining why they’re making the same decisions as Westminster. People feel like a better job is being done, and that’s important, but not as important as, say, an effective test and trace system for care homes.

While the Spanish (excluding Catalonia, the Basque country, the Canaries, etc…) are very uneasy about Scottish independence, and they would definitely think about blocking an independent Scotland’s accession to the EU, in practice the implications of this are non-viable.

Newly independent Scotland: we would like to be fully integrated members of the Western alliance.

Spain: no, piss off and see if Russia and China are interested in being your friends. See what value your two deep water naval bases already fully equipped to take nuclear armed submarines, and globally significant strategic position dominating the north Atlantic are worth to them, losers!

USA: …um…

The conversation will never get to that point since it is absurd. And (non-English) European governments don’t do absurd, yet. While it make take many years for Scotland to join the EU, my guess is it would join the EEA / EFTA or whatever it is called on independence day. All the benefits and disadvantages of EU membership, apart from political representation, which isn’t an issue for the time being.

The question is, are we* willing to bear the economic cost of a trade border with England? Which does depend on how long the English are willing to bear the economic cost of a trade border with the EU!


  • by we, I suppose I should mean Scots living in Scotland. As a Scot living in England independence mainly means me regaining my EU / EEA / EFTA citizenship. Bring it on!

I was under the impression the overall theme of Brexit was one of “I wanna hurt you even if I hurt myself more in the process!”

There is no queue. Scotland could join the EU as soon as it met the criteria. It currently meets most of the criteria, by definition as a recent member. The main issue would be currency. It’s not impossible that the EU would allow Scotland to move straight to using the euro (because, why not? Explain to me again why we have to adopt the euro and in order to adopt the euro we have to prove that we don’t need to adopt the euro?) but more likely a new Scottish pound would be introduced. This would not be trivial, but isn’t impossible. Bear in mind, there is no problem with many contracts continuing to be expressed in sterling.

It’s possible Scotland isn’t financially viable, uniquely for a developed region of a developed continent. That would be an existential problem, in our out of the UK and EU, which would best be addressed sooner rather than later. Unless we assume that English taxpayers are going to pay significant subsidies forever, through the pure altruism of their staunchly internationalist hearts (snigger)?

Independence would be a big step. Joining the EU would be another big step. It would be impossible for Scotland in the same way that it would be impossible for, say, the Baltic states (who have in fact, done just that).

Pro tip: not everything you read on social media is true and unbiased.

“There is no queue.”

Really? My understanding is that the other countries come first.

“Scotland could join the EU as soon as it met the criteria. It currently meets most of the criteria, by definition as a recent member.”

Being a recent member makes no difference, it has to start over. The UK is already marginal for entry criteria, and the exceptions it got won’t be grandfathered over to Scotland.

“It’s not impossible that the EU would allow Scotland to move straight to using the euro (because, why not? Explain to me again why we have to adopt the euro and in order to adopt the euro we have to prove that we don’t need to adopt the euro?”

Use of the Euro is a condition for EU membership, as soon as the criteria are met. Places like Poland don’t, so they don’;t use the Euro yet, but are committed to doing so one day. An independent Scotland either has to use the GBP, so it continues to be tied to the UK economy, or else adopt another currency. It would have a hard time floating a Scottish pound. The Baltics went through a shaky period until they got established, an they are the closest equivalent.
The problem is that Scotland does not have either a strong or a balanced economy. It is still suffering from the long hangover of deindustrialization, and does not really have much to replace it. As I said, it is subsidized by England, Would England continue to do so if Scotland goes independent? The whole question of whether Scotland is viable as an independernt nation was discussed in detail in the run-up t the referendum in 2014 and the general conclusion was that the economy would take a big hit. Independence would be a big step - but probably downwards. I don’t want to sound anti-Scottish, because I am not, but I think it does not make sense to divide an island. Hence England, Wales and Scotland should stay together, and Ireland will reunite one day. Just don’t ask me which day it will be.

“Pro tip: not everything you read on social media is true and unbiased.”

To state the obvious. But that is not my only source.

However, much depends on how the Brexit goes. If, as some predict, it is little sort of a disaster, then Scotland will ask - and justifiably so - why it should share in the misery, the more so since Scotland as a whole voted to stay in.

Not to derail, but do the Scots and English view each other as sort-of “foreigners”?

No. Other countries have been candidates for membership for longer, but there is no “queue”. Each candidate country either does or does not meet the criteria for membership or negotiates an exception from them and, once everything has been lined up, it can accede as a member. There is no rule or practice whereby a country has to wait until other countries, that have been candidates for longer, are in a position to accede.

The condition for accession is not that you have to use the euro, but that you have to commit to doing so, when the time is right. Sweden made that commitment in 1994, acceded in 1995, has yet to adopt the euro and has no current plans to, so obviously a degree of, um, flexibility is available. And I think there would be a good deal of understanding for Scotland’s position, if it wished for the forseeable to use a currency linked to sterling.

As you say, independence does have the possiblity of being signficantly economically adverse, at least in the short to medium term. But this is generally true of secession from a larger state; the consideration hasn’t stopped a great many secessions. Plus, the calculation has changed since 2014. On the one hand, independence is now necessary if EU membership is to be maintained, which wasn’t true in 2014; since EU membership is very beneficial for Scotland that changes the economic considerations signficantly. Plus, another change from 2014 is that Westminster seems bent on taking the UK down an economically damaging course which over time must tend to make it more burdensome for the UK to transfer wealth to Scotland, and may weaken the political support in England to continue doing so to the same degree as hitherto. All-in-all, the economic advantages of union with England may seem less compelling now than they did in 2014.

If Scotland does become independent, some Conservative MP is going to propose rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall. And make Scotland pay for it, of course.

Very complex question. On one level ‘not really’ - many of us are inter-related through blood, marriage and friendships, we’ve had no border for three hundred years, I doubt any Scot moving to Manchester for work would think they’re moving abroad. But there’s distinct, emotional, tribal, cultural distinctions. Most of us identify as two nationalities - I’m both English and British.

Of course we have the relatively recent example in The Republic of Ireland as a demonstration of how quickly we would adapt to Scotland and RumpUK being both foreign neighbours - but also still very much close cousins.

Whatever happens, Scotland is in for a rough ride, I fear.

Not really. Cultural differences, yes

If Scotland does become independent, some Conservative MP is going to propose rebuilding Hadrian’s Wall. And make Scotland pay for it, of course.

Bearing in mind that that would inadvertently cut off a chunk of England, including chunks of (I think) four Tory-held constituencies… I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some dimwit Tory MP were to do exactly that.

Post-brexit I’d say there’s not just a chance, its more likely than not IMO. If Brexit goes ahead (most especially if its some variety of “hard brexit”, which is looking likely) then I’d say it more likely than not that Scotland will leave the UK and rejoin the EU in the next decade.

How can they leave a country they share a border with?

Although I can see they might wish to have more say in national issues like immigration.