Foreign Policy Implications of Scottish IndependenceMay 1, 2013
In advance of next year’s referendum on Scottish independence the (UK) Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee have just put out a report on the foreign policy implications of Scottish independence. The Parliamentarians conclude that the new UK will be slightly smaller in terms of population (c. 8%) and GNP, will have pretty much the same diplomatic and military capabilities and will simply succeed to the rights and obligations of the old UK. In contrast Scotland will be a new state and will have to apply for memberships, develop its own diplomatic, military and intelligence capabilities and will find its chosen foreign policy niches occupied by other small states. Having said this the Committee does point out that having a portion of your population walk out is unlikely to be good for your soft power and this will play into a perception of British decline.
The biggest concern of the committee is that the SNP have said that an independent Scotland would be nuclear free and this would create major difficulties for the UK since the Trident submarines are based in Scotland. They cheerfully point out that if the UK was forced to relocate this base an independent Scotland might find that its new neighbour might not be as cooperative on a variety of issues as the SNP assumes.