A new report from the UK Government has this week made clear that an independent Scotland would be regarded as a completely separate state under international law.
Professors James Crawford and Alan Boyle, leading experts on international law, have produced a 58 page legal opinion which says the overwhelming weight of legal opinion makes clear the UK would be regarded by the international community as the ‘continuing state’.
The legal opinion confirms that a vote for independence would make Scotland a ‘successor state’ and specifically rejects the proposition, advanced by Scotland’s First Minister, that Scotland and the UK would both be regarded as two new states following any vote for independence.
Commenting on the newly-released report, Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said:
“It is crucial that local people are able to consider the benefits that Scotland enjoys as a nation of five million people in a modern, devolved country.
“This report makes clear what the legal situation is. No one disputes that Scotland could be a separate state, but it would be far from straightforward.
“Devolution has always been a fluid process and I am confident that a no vote in 2014 will deliver more powers to the Scottish Parliament.”
“As the Prime Minister has said recently, Britain works well. Why break it?”
Scotland Office Minister, David Mundell MP said:
“The devolution settlement is capable of change when the case is made as the Scotland Act 2012 delivered by this government has shown. So it is simply wrong to characterise the referendum as a choice between change and no change. By changing and adapting the devolution settlement will continue to deliver the best of both worlds for Scotland. Independence would end it.”
Notes to editors:
The UK government’s Scotland analysis programme was formally launched on Monday 11 February. The programme is examining how Scotland contributes to and benefits from being part of the UK, and how the rest of the UK benefits from its partnership with Scotland. It will provide evidence and analysis to inform the public debate on Scottish independence ahead of the referendum (UK Government website, link).
The UK government will be producing a series of papers over the course of 2013 and 2014 covering key legal, economic and policy issues in the debate. The work programme was announced to the House of Commons by the Secretary of State for Scotland on 20 June 2012 (ibid.).
The programme will look in detail at the key issues in the Scottish independence debate including: the legal and constitutional set-up, including the current relationship within the UK and the legal implications of a vote for independence the economic questions, including the UK’s economy and public finances and Scotland’s part in that, and the shared institutions and key sectors that support the UK’s and Scotland’s economic performance wider important policy issues such as the UK’s place in the world, shared defence and security services, energy, the UK’s world-leading financial services sector, welfare and pensions, and culture.
The Prime Minister David Cameron recently published an article on Scotland’s place in the UK (10 Downing Street website, 10 February 2013, link).