A few weeks ago I watched a debate on TV about Scottish independence.
This got me thinking about my views on the subject. I have never really thought in any great detail about Scottish independence until now. The SNP will be holding a referendum in Scotland on the issue of independence in 2014.
Personally, I am against Scottish independence. I like the fact that its part of the UK. But if Scotlandwere to break away from the union, I wonder what would happen?
I’m not attempting to answer any questions here – the below is basically what I have been wondering about… me thinking aloud – ‘food for thought’ to those living in Scotland eligible to vote in the referendum. I’d be interested in hearing your views, so comment below or e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firstly, there’s the question over whether Scotland keeps the pound. Perhaps it might introduce a ‘Scottish pound’ and then be able to set its own exchange rate in line with its own economy – a little bit like the US, Canadian and Aussie Dollars.
Should Scotland join the EU? If it were to do so, the fee it pays to the EU for its membership would come from the Scottish government’s own budget, not, as it does presently, from Westminster. Would it adopt the Euro(!)?
Then there’s the question over border controls: If Scotland becomes part of the EU once it is an independent, sovereign nation, it automatically becomes part of the Schengen area – that is to say – the area of Europe within which there are no border controls, unless you are leaving the Schengen area.
However: As the UK has opted out of the Schengen area, the England/Scotland border wouldn’t be ‘open’ as it is now – checkpoints would be build and you’d have to have your passport checked to enter Scotland from England.
If Scotland were a part of the Schengen area, you’d end up with the bizarre situation that (in theory) you could fly from Athens to Edinburgh without a passport, but you could not cross between England and Scotland on foot unless you had one with you.
That is of course unless Scotland to opts out of the Schengen area (this would require the approval of all EU states) and become part of the UK/Ireland Common Travel Area, in which case, there’d be no change there.
Now: enforcing border controls between England and Scotland might seem like a simple concept. But think about this: what about the people who live South of the border, and work in the North (and vice versa) – who would have to take their passports with them to work or school!
What about the people who have Scottish postcodes? That would mean their post comes from a sorting office outside the UK!
Then, think about the fact that the UK telephone system is regulated by OfCom. Would OfCom have legal power in an independent Scotland, or would a new company be set up? If a new company were set up, would Scotland’s telephone system be completely changed, and would Scotland have it’s own international dialling code – meaning calls to Scotland would become international calls? (Of course, the US and Canada share the same telephone international dialing code, so nothing may change with regards to phones, but it is worth thinking about).
Then you’ve got to think about International relations: the Westminster government is currently responsible for that. In an independent Scotland, they would become the responsibility of the Scottish government. What would Scotland’s relationship with the UK and Ireland be? What about the rest of Europe? The US? Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea etc?
It has also confirmed that, should people vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum and Scotland goes independent, a Scottish passport will be introduced – people will be able to get Scottish citizenship (at the moment, all UK passports state “Nationality: British”).
But even this raises a question: who would qualify for a Scottish passport? My Grandmother, as someone born in Scotland, with Scottish roots,would certainly get Scottish nationality, with Mum, and possibly me, qualifying for dual nationality British/Scottish – depending on what the ‘critera’ for Scottish citizenship gets set as (not living in Scotland, with only Mum being half Scottish, it probably wouldn’t be an automatic right for me).
In one Internet forum I was reading, one person suggested making it very easy to get Scottish nationality based on a Grandparent’s nationality (UK law doesn’t currently allow someone to get British citizenship based on a Grandparent’s nationality). One poster suggested that, as every British citizen currently has the right to move around the country freely and live in either England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland if they wish, perhaps everyone should be offered thechoice of which nationality to take.
Of course, the polls currently show that most people would vote against Scottish independence, and even if that does change by the time the referendum comes round, I expect it would take some time after that for things to start to happen. But the above are all things that have to be thought about at some point! What would an independent Scotland look like? Let me know what you think!