Forecasting The Future of an Independent Scotland

A focus on the possible EU, legal, constitutional, defence and foreign policy implications for both Scotland and the Rest of the United Kingdom (rUK) in the event of Scottish independence.


LCSS held the first of its two roundtable discussions on the Scottish Referendum looking at a number of possible consequences and “ifs and buts” surrounding the prospect of an independent Scotland. With expert names attending the roundtable to discuss EU, legal and foreign policy implications the event managed to cover many important aspects.

With the chairmanship of Prof Trevor Taylor, the roundtable commenced with Sir Richard Ottaway’s keynote speech. Sir Richard covered many areas with regards to Scottish independence including the difficulties Scotland would face in reapplying to the EU, the removal of Trident submarines and nuclear weapons, Scotland’s need to setup its own diplomatic services at significant cost. Sir Richard’s speech included the growing strength of the pro-independence camp in the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum. The United Kingdom would still be the eighth largest economy in the world but it would lose reputation and its hard and soft power would diminish. 

Dr Andrew Blick’s keynote speech concentrated on the constitutional debate, as well as an historical perspective shedding light on how the United Kingdom actually came to being. Dr Blick drew reference to U.K as the biggest single market in Europe before being replaced by the EU. Dr Blick also stated that the constitutional debate had gained more prominence since the breakup of the British Empire and that the U.K had been moving towards a more federal constitution since the 1990s.

Prof Malcolm Chalmers drew on a number of different factors regarding Scottish independence as well. Prof Chalmers claimed that debate would be settled in the end not by cost-benefit analysis but rather by identity and emotional attachment. Prof Chalmers also stated that it would not be feasible to develop a Scottish defence force in the first couple of years, but he said that it should not be assumed that Scotland would join the end of the queue for EU membership.

Dr Murkens offered a talk from a public-law perspective with coherent legal answers on both sides of the debate. He said that he expects a period of uncertainty if the result is “yes” to independence. Dr Murkens said that Scotland would be obliged to offer more than the United Kingdom has done for the European Union to accept their application for membership, but that special accommodation of Scotland within the EU was conceivable. Dr Murkens also drew on the negotiation process to take place between the UK and Scotland and the prospect of inde-light and devo-max.

After the keynote speeches, the roundtable delegates were then invited to discuss around the topic as well as ask questions to the keynote speakers covering issues such as asset and debt sharing, whether the outcome of the vote would be legally-binding, the impact of independence on the UK wanting to remain in the EU, the role of emotion in voting as well as the impact of independence for other nations including Turkey. Discussions continued after the roundtable in an informal setting with refreshments.

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