Scotland foreign policy ‘needs more than goodwill’

By Tony Hudson

Scotland faces serious foreign policy difficulties if it becomes independent,
a group of MPs has warned.

According to a report issued by the Commons' foreign affairs committee, there are significant gaps in the proposed foreign policy of a potentially independent Scotland which need to be convincingly addressed by Scottish MPs.

An independent Scotland will have to start from scratch internationally as the overwhelming body of evidence indicates the remaining UK will inherit the vast majority of existing international rights and obligations, the report argues.

The report also claims Scotland's claims for a straightforward journey towards membership in the EU and Nato are unrealistic as it is up to the EU itself to determine membership of new states.

According to the report, a newly independent Scotland may be forced to make trade-offs in order to secure the necessary unanimous support it would need for membership.

Aside from the EU membership issue, the report claims a belief in goodwill towards Scotland from the remaining UK will override any difficulties when problems arise underpins much of the proposed foreign policy.

"At the moment, there are some quite worrying gaps in the Scottish government's foreign policy vision and certain assumptions are being made which don't seem to be based on concrete evidence," said committee chair Richard Ottaway.

"It is not enough to hope and assert that things will go in Scotland's favour at an international level and that goodwill will be forthcoming."

The findings of the report will probably not come as much of a surprise to independence-minded Scots, as similar arguments have been made from British MPs several times since the announcement of the referendum.

Former chancellor Alistair Darling, a key figure in the 'no' campaign, has said an independent Scotland would most likely face a nine-year wait for EU membership.