29 Nov UK needs Scotland for global influence, says expert
A political expert has stated that the UK’s influence in the world may decline if Scotland becomes independent.
Richard Whitman, from Kent University, has specifically stated that Scotland leaving the union could have a “profound impact” on the UK’s political standing within the European Union.
The professor of politics and international relations believes the remainder of the UK would “cease to be one of the EU’s big three”. Professor Whitman continued to theorise that the remnants of the United Kingdom “may face a diminished capacity for influence within EU institutions and its bilateral relationships with EU member states.”
Without Scotland, Professor Whitman says the rest of the UK would drop to fourth place behind Italy in terms of population, with its military prowess being subordinate to France.
The UK’s relationship with the United States might also suffer, resulting in a reduction of influence and claim to significant leadership positions within EU institutions.
Other factors to be considered would be the credibility of the UK’s seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). This would be contingent on what happens to Scottish-based nuclear weapons.
The remaining nations of the UK would have to reconsider defence strategy, specifically with regard to influencing EU defence tactics.
If an independent Scotland were to emerge from the referendum, Professor Whitman also advises the UK to consider shrinking its diplomatic, security and defense infrastructure, which “would present difficult choices over what should be priorities for expenditure.”
Whitman further mentions the possible “diminution of the UK’s soft power.” The professor implies that the cultural reach of the UK would be lessened, and the losing of territory within the multinational state would generate uncertainty about whether further secessions might follow.
Independent Scotland in the EU
Professor Whitman emphasises the work Scotland will have to do if it gains independence: “The major impact of independence will fall on Scotland in its requirement to create a foreign and security policy and to seek membership of regional and international organisations including the United Nations.”
The academic states that when joining the EU, Scotland would not be able to enjoy the UK’s current opt-outs from the euro nor the Schengen area.
He also stated that some matters, like the latter Schengen area, could not be discussed without taking into account the UK’s own interests.
Many critics have been asking Salmond to consider the complexity of Scotland’s EU status if it becomes independent for some time. The SNP’s official stance still reads that Scotland will be accepted into the EU, as validated by experts.
David Miliband has been a major critic of the SNP’s view that an independent Scotland would gain automatic EU entry, alleging that Salmond’s claims of immediate entry are false and “fantasy island.”
Other European options have been considered, such as suggestions by two former SNP leaders that Scotland should join the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA). This would allow free trade without Scotland needing to be a member state of the EU.
The same former SNP leaders also expressed that Salmond’s “mere assertions” about EU membership could damage nationalist chances of victory in the referendum.
Questions over Scotland’s admission to the EU began when Spain’s foreign minister and European Commission President warned that Scotland may have to endure a long negotiating process over joining the EU.
Escalating from this were the allegations directed at Alex Salmond over his apparent lies with regard to whether he had received advice about EU membership.
The Scottish government have since confirmed that they will not publish the legal advice they receive on whether an independent Scotland will have automatic membership to the EU.
UK may leave EU anyway
Given the promise by Prime Minister David Cameron to hold a referendum on EU membership, Scotland may be forced to leave the EU if it remains inside the Union should English voters vote – as seems increasingly likely – to leave.
It may well be the case that if Scots do want to remain inside the EU that voting for independence is their best course of action.
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