Scotland has to start from scratch if independent

Local MP Jo Swinson is highlighting a paper by two leading law professors stating an independent Scotland would have to renegotiate existing treaties from scratch if it becomes independent. 

The paper was the first in a series commissioned by the UK Government that will set out the facts about a range of issues that are critical to considering Scotland’s future.

Professors James Crawford and Alan Boyle, leading experts on international law, produced the paper which says the overwhelming weight of legal opinion makes clear a vote for independence would make Scotland a ‘successor state.  This flies in the face of the proposition, advanced by the First Minister, that Scotland and the UK would both be regarded as two new states following any vote for independence.

A newly independent Scottish state would be required to create a new set of domestic and international arrangements. Negotiations would need to take place with the UK Government on any requests to retain UK wide arrangements on matters such as a currency union, financial regulation and national security. An independent Scotland would also need to negotiate with the European Union to agree new terms and conditions.

The opinion also concludes that, in the event of a vote for independence, the UK would not have to negotiate new international treaties or memberships because, as the continuing state, they would be largely unaffected under international law.

Commenting Jo said:

“I am pleased that the UK Government began this process and set out the legal implications of a vote for independence. It is vital the public get information based on evidence and expert opinion and that’s what we’ve got.

“Based on international law and precedent, in the event of independence, Scotland would be a new state and would have to start from scratch applying and negotiating to join international organisations and signing up to treaties. The rest of the UK would continue as normal. Information like this in the public domain should surely be welcomed.

“This is the first of many papers to be published by the UK Government on this issue and I look forward to the debate gathering pace as we look at other policy areas in the months ahead.”

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