The Meaning of Scottish Separation and the Union Alternative

Alex Salmond’s White Paper “Blueprint for Scotland’s Future” isn’t just “blurry” as the Daily Telegraph put it (27th November 2013), it is downright impertinent in its presumption.  It is also a disgrace to Scottish traditions of intellectual honesty and fair-mindedness in its assumptions and selfishness in matters like English student fees for instance and doubts about paying its 8.4% share of the UK national debt.

While on the subject of paying, what has the Electoral Commission to say about one party to a referendum using the machinery of government to put its case in such a one-sided way?


Nobody who is British by national status can be made to give up their British passport and become a Scottish citizen whether they are living in Scotland or were born there years ago.  People who did opt for Scottish citizenship and passport would not then have access to British consular facilities abroad.  They would have to pass through the non-UK immigration channels at British airports and ports.  Being outside both the EU and the UK, Scottish passport holders travelling abroad would have a very thin time.

Nor within the UK, can Salmond dictate, as his White Paper asserts, that there will not be border posts along the English-Scots border or checks on travellers arriving in England, Wales or Northern Ireland from Scotland by air.  That will be for the rest of the UK to decide.  The people of the UK would not allow its tightening immigration controls to be undermined by a more “liberal” immigration policy in a separated Scotland.

Nor can Scots living abroad be morally or legally conscripted into its citizenship (as the White Paper presumes) when they have had no right to vote on the issue.

Salmond’s “Blueprint” is available at the Website  It invites you to ask questions about the future as seen by Alex Salmond.  The simple question: “Why do you believe that a Scottish government can unilaterally deprive people of their British Citizenship?” returned unsurprisingly “No results”.

The fact is that no government, let alone a breakaway Scottish one, can in British law, or in EU law, or in International law, deprive people ‘en masse’ of their citizenship.  Under EU law for instance, all the people living in Scotland could retain British citizenship and passports and their residency in Scotland as can other Euro-nationals.  All that a Scottish government could do would be to stop them voting in Scottish national elections (but not local or EU ones).  The only way Salmond could deprive them of these rights would be by staying outside the EU, where Scotland will in any case be, were it to quit the UK.  It would even be doubtful that a UK government would agree to Scotland’s joining the UN, given Salmond’s proposed treatment of its British citizens resident in Scotland.

Presumption that the Queen would automatically be Head of an independent Scottish State is invalid

It is not certain that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom would advise[1] the Queen to be Head of a breakaway Scottish State. Certainly all 16 of the Queen’s Commonwealth Realms would have to be consulted and give their individual consents to the Queen’s taking on an additional role, in this case sharing their monarch with a foreign country. In the same way that proposed changes to the laws of succession are being subjected to careful scrutiny (2 years after the changes were approved in principle, at the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Perth Australia), agreement to Salmond’s proposal “to retain the Queen” as he puts it, would not be a quick, let alone an automatic process.

Many of the Queen’s Realms, including Canada where the Canadian Constitution Act 1982 specifically provides for all 10 of its provinces to be consulted over any matter touching on the Crown, will find the proposal a nuisance at best. With the Quebec separatists in mind, Canada would be in no hurry to suit Salmond’s timetable for a separatist Scotland.

Time for Scotland’s prominenti to speak out against a disastrous separation

Time is long overdue for Scotland’s retired military men, academics, business leaders and prominent sports men and women to speak out against the madness which would cast Scotland into isolation, being neither in the UK, the UN, NATO, nor the EU, and very possibly without a Head of State or a currency[2].

Mood Change in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the event of a Scottish breakaway

If, despite all the chaos which would ensue (see below), the Scottish electorate were to vote for separation, the mood in England, Wales and Northern Ireland regarding Scotland will change dramatically from mere annoyance at the disproportionate numbers of Scottish voices on the BBC to downright resentment at those who apparently want to have their cake and eat it as well.

Neither this writer, nor anyone I have spoken to wants this to happen, but it is up to those Scots who earn a handsome living from the British media in England as well as in Scotland also to speak out strongly, as Allan Massie (Daily Telegraph 28th November) and Fraser Nelson (Daily Telegraph 29th November) have just done. No Scot should assume that either their careers or their citizenship will be unaffected by a Scottish break with the Union.

Salmond’s White Paper is not a blueprint for Scotland’s future, but one gigantic ego trip for him and his ministers, where he fancies himself strutting around the world stage as Scottish Prime Minister with bagpipes skirling, while his fellow citizens (if there are any) have to come through the foreign immigration channel at UK ports and airports and have no help at all when they get into difficulties with foreign police (as quite a few do).


But there is an alternative: stay together and help create a modernised United Kingdom fit for the 21st Century as described on the “British Constitution” page of this website by this writer, from a post dated 23rd January 2012, and entitled “A new Constitution for all of the United Kingdom”.  This paper first discusses the catastrophe which Scottish separation would inflict on all the peoples of the United Kingdom: fraught negotiations over the Trident base at Faslane and the division of oil and gas revenues; the Queen’s ambiguous position; immigration controls at borders (as above); pressure on the UK to give up its UN permanent Security Council seat; the lawyers’ feeding frenzy that would attend the disentangling of pensions and benefits rights; pressure on the UK to reduce its voting power in the European Council (if it were still in the EU); Scotland having to set up (and pay for) its own defence forces, embassies, diplomatic service, and broadcast network; for ambitious Scotsmen and women exclusion from job opportunities in British public life and services, including the Armed Forces, and reduced possibilities for Scottish businesses manufacturing defence equipment for them. Scottish people would in effect be excluding themselves from British history with all its achievements, as well as a British future with all its promise of a revitalised economy.

What would a modernised UK Constitution look like?

Its guiding principles would be: equality, simplicity, and prudence – the 5 parliaments or “equality-max” solution.  Briefly, as described in the paper “A new Constitution for all of the United Kingdom”, the English parliament would be re-established with the same powers as the Scottish parliament. There would be an English First Minister, who could not in law be the UK Prime Minister.  There would be a specifically United Kingdom parliament, elected by the whole UK (and those elected for constituencies in England would constitute the English parliament). The UK parliament would deal only with all-UK issues, including defence, immigration, air traffic control, strategic policies for industry, transport, energy and the environment, pensions, benefits, and national health, and UK tax raising to pay for these.  The UK parliament would in all likelihood not need to sit for more than an average of 2 days per week. There would be provision for a portion of off-shore fuel and gas revenues to go specifically to Scotland, the Shetlands and regions of England adjoining the offshore[3] fields, the precise proportions to be decided for 10 years at a time. The four parliaments for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would have direct tax-raising powers, but no loan-raising powers without UK Treasury agreement. The Bank of England would have the same powers of oversight of banks in the four parts of the UK and would, as now, set bank rate.

In all respects the Kingdoms of England and Scotland would be equal in the Union, as would in slightly different ways the Province of Northern Ireland and the Principality of Wales.  These are simple and prudent arrangements which would finally settle the “West Lothian question” and draw the sting from all but the most irreconcilable streams of pride and resentment.


[1]  Advice in this context means binding constitutional advice – an instruction in effect.  Salmond needs to be told he risks breaking not only the Union of Parliaments (1707), but the Union of Crowns (1603) as well.

[2]  See comments by Johann Lamont, leader of the Scottish Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament on 27th November 2013.

[3]  The offshore oil and gas fields could not in International Law “belong” to designated parts of the UK, but its parliament could direct the tax revenues to whichever parts it chose.

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