Scotland is a very special country for me personally. While pursuing my degree at the University, I have spent a great time there discovering and enjoying the beauty of the country. I am grateful to Scotland for the opportunities and support it gave me. I have met a lot of fantastic people and experienced a secured and well prospering Scotland. However, in less than one year, Scots will go to vote in the referendum on the Scottish independence organised by the current First Minister Alexander Salmond and his Scottish Nationalist Party. Thus, in case of voting in favor for independence, the situation may change for an uncertain and unsecured future.
After years of discussions and demands by the Scottish people, they will finally have a chance in September 2014 to decide whether to remain in the United Kingdom or not. The Scottish independence would bring significant changes and long lasting implications for both Scotland and the United Kingdom. Scotland would face difficulties with its defence, nuclear submarines, EU and NATO membership. Last but not least the Scottish economy would deteriorate.
According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, the revenue of taxation of oil and gas will not guarantee the stability of the Scottish economy. The independent Scotland will be constrained to cut the public spending. The problem is that Scotland would not be able to base its economy on this sector as it is very unstable and might vary over time. To make matters worse, an independent Scottish government will inherit a debt of about two-thirds of the national income. It will therefore enact a reasonable tax policy that will govern the debt limit. Experts from the Institute of Fiscal Studies says that one of the key decisions will be on the taxation of oil and gas sector, partly to ensure the budget revenues, but on the other hand, doesn't inhibit investments that would benefit from this source of revenue in the long term.
Currently public spendings in Scotland is approximately 1,200 pounds per person. However, if Scotland leave the UK, this number will decrease immediately. Yet another interesting fact is that most of the Scottish exports, 66% goes to the UK, while only 5% to the US, 3% to France and 2% to Germany.
An independent Scotland will eventually have to change its currency. Scotland’s finance Minister Mr Swinney stated that the country will preserve the pound. However, according to the White Paper (a guide to Scottish Independence) Scotland has three options. First, as mentioned it will preserve the pound. Second, create a new Scottish currency and third, join the Eurozone. According to the White Paper, Scotland will decide on its currency only after becoming independent.
National defence is the weakest card of the Scottish Nationalist Party. There has been a lot of statements made to find the concrete answers to the question of the Scottish defence. Alex Salmond is willing to re-establish Scottish regiments, which in the past were closed down or lost due to the amalgamation. I doubt that Mr Salmond would be able to restore all of them. Furthermore, the SNP’s (Scottish nationalistic party) policy over NATO is clear, Scotland will not join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Perhaps SNP will change its policy over time.
The last issue which I would like to present is the nuclear submarines which are in possession of the United Kingdom and which some are located in Scotland. The submarines will more likely have to return to the UK as London would not agree on preserving them in Scotland.
Yet another issue at the horizon is the membership in the European Union. In believe of Scotland’s First Minister, the country will first join the EU 18 months after becoming independent. However, Mr Salmond forgot that decisions are being made in the European Union on the basis of consensus. Thus, it will be difficult to have consensus regarding Scotland’s accession. Recently, the Spanish Prime Minister Mr Rajoy stated while visiting France, that if a region would leave a member state it would have to reapply for EU membership. Therefore, that could bring serious implications for the SNP as the Spanish government being challenged by Catalonian claims for its independence, complicate the case for Scotland since Mr Rajoy very unlikely would vote in favor for Scotland’s EU membership.
The above issues are only a few of which will matter in case of an independent Scotland. There are many issues that are important that I haven’t mentioned. To conclude, although I understand the SNP’s aspirations for a fully independent Scotland, I don’t believe that leaving the UK will be more beneficial for the Scots. Nevertheless, I shall respect the choice the Scots make on september 18th 2014.
Edited by: Lisa Enocsson