By George Kerevan

I AM a citizen of the European Union. I have been since 1973. In fact, of the 28 current members of the EU, the vast majority (19) joined after Scotland did. Scotland complies with all the many rules – legal, economic, political and social – required of each EU member state. In fact, we have a better track record of compliance than many other countries. Scots have long been at the centre of promoting European collaboration. David Maxwell Fyfe, a canny Scots lawyer, was instrumental in drafting the European Convention on Human Rights.

Why then should there be any doubt regarding Scottish membership of the EU if we vote Yes to dissolving the 1707 Union with England next September? Would there need to be discussions with Brussels over Scotland’s financial contribution and voting rights in the EU? Obviously – but the same would go for the down-sized remainder of the UK. Such a tidying up-operation could surely be done in parallel with the negotiations being conducted between Holyrood and Westminster regarding independence itself. Why would either Europe or rUK want it otherwise?

Of course, political life is not so simple. There are vested interests that want to make the process of formalising EU membership and de-merging from the UK more difficult for Scotland than it need be, or should be. I just want you to realise that the creation of such roadblocks – real or imaginary – has nothing whatsoever to do with Scotland’s ability to be a good EU member, comply with EU rules, or play a constructive role in European affairs.

So when it’s inferred you should not vote Yes because Scotland’s continued membership of the European club would be put in jeopardy you are being – not to fudge the issue – blackmailed. It’s a nasty word for a nasty piece of politics. Those doing the political blackmailing also have a poor regard for the intelligence of the average Scottish voter.

Consider a lurid headline yesterday in one of the big London dailies: “Spanish PM: Independent Scotland would be kicked out of the EU.” The article went on: “Scotland would be kicked out of the European Union if it voted for independence, Spanish Prime Minister says, contradicting Alex Salmond’s claims membership would be seamless … Mr Rajoy’s intervention is severely damaging for Mr Salmond as it would mean Scotland having to apply from scratch for EU membership, a process that would take years, and having to negotiate its own opt-out from the euro”.

The newspaper I quote, like most of the London press, is rabidly anti-EU. Its leader column carried the following diatribe last week: “The lifting of restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian immigration in the coming New Year has crystallised in the minds of many voters just how powerless we can be in the face of an ever-expanding European Union.” The leader page even went on to praise David Cameron for wanting an in/out referendum on EU membership.

Surely the London newspaper’s response to Mariano Rajoy’s comments on Scotland should be something like: “Voting Yes means escape from daft Brussels bureaucrats.” Or “Up yours, Rajoy, we prefer the freedom to control our own borders!”

On the contrary – even though it hates the EU and its works, alleging a threat to Britain’s racial purity and way of life – it deliberately used the threat of an independent Scotland being thrust out of the EU as an argument for voting No. Do London leader writers think Scots are naive? Answer: I think they do.

According to the latest opinion poll – which uses the exact wording in the Tory draft bill for an in/out EU referendum – 36 per cent of UK voters say they will vote Yes (to stay) but 45 per cent will vote No (to leave).

That means that even if Scots stick with the UK, the current likelihood is that English voters will take us out of Europe anyway. And the anti-European London press will be whooping for joy. The very same press that keeps trying to frighten Scots voters with dark tales about how difficult it will be for Alex Salmond to negotiate continued EU membership.

What of the intervention of Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister? Again, we have someone who is not concerned with the facts of Scotland’s European credentials – Scotland was in the EU before Spain. In fact, Scotland was a democracy before Spain was. Mr Rajoy leads a country with 56 per cent youth unemployment and 0.1 per cent growth. He needs to talk to John Swinney about how to run an economy.

According to the polls, 80 per cent of Catalan citizens would like to hold a self-determination referendum. In the last Catalan elections, parties proposing a self-determination referendum received 80 per cent of the votes. But Mr Rajoy is refusing to countenance such a referendum.

Mr Rajoy’s threat to force an independent Scotland out of the EU has nothing to do with Scotland and everything to do with blackmailing Catalan democrats into dropping their threat to hold a referendum anyway. I have a smidgen of understanding for his position. The old Francoist Right in Spain still exists and is making grumbling noises about a coup if the uppity Catalans exercise their democratic right to vote on self-determination. A desperate Mr Rajoy is using Scotland as a stick to beat the Catalans. He’d be better to use the example of Scottish democracy in action as a stick to beat the fascists.

The debate regarding independent Scotland’s future relations with the EU is being deliberately obfuscated. There is nothing in the EU treaties that covers a member state dissolving into its constituent parts. Politicians such as Mr Rajoy can express all the personal opinions they want but the only constitutional body that can adjudicate on the treaties is the European Court of Justice. My advice to Scots is this: set your own course and don’t be bullied by those with agendas of their own.

Courtesy of George Kerevan and the Scotsman


# FREEDOM1 2013-11-29 15:38
Why did the UK not veto the Bulgarian and Romanian countries from joining the EU when they applied? Yet they seem to be willing to veto Scotland which is a far richer country than Romania & Bulgaria put together. UK say we are scroungers getting more than we deserve, yet they are not willing to let us go? I smell a Parcel o Rogues.
# Clootieblocked 2013-11-29 15:49

A great article - well put.

The scare stories are so over the top that they are plain daft!

However I do worry about the lack of balance from the EU authorities. They often claim they are staying out of a domestic issue and yet allow officials to make such "observations".

Back to basics - the issue could be resolved tomorrow if the UK asked for a formal statement/assessment. It must be obvious to all that the reason they do not ask is because they fear the statement will not be to their liking.

A resolved issue would remove a major fear story from the better together arsenal.

(The added bonus for this fear story is the BBC translation service who appear to have enhanceed the statement - perhaps one they had prepared earlier?)
# BRL 2013-11-29 16:39
There are 288 days left for the truth to come out on all these spook issues and the BT walls are crumbling before our eyes even now.

As is becoming the consensus opinion of any eligible Scot who can vote on 18 September 2014, excepting the die-hard, aye loyalist, ever NO variety, this referendum is for Scots by Scots and the truth of it is that the No camp cannot claim to be putting up a constructive fight to save the union if negativity and no forward thinking is all that's on offer.

David Cameron is the PM of the UK and he refuses to debate the issues being placed before every Scot; issues that will critically impact on the whole UK are being left to fester. If a week is a long time in politics - 288 days will seem like eternity.
# Leswil 2013-11-29 16:42
If these things can remain unchallenged within the EU, what does that really say about democracy within the Union itself?
They should stand up and say that if Scotland decides to leave the UK by way of democratic vote. They, as existing citizens of the EU, will be made welcome.
To fail to allow, or make it difficult is democratically counter to the purposes of the EU itself.

So what then will it be, democracy fails? if it does it makes a mockery of the EU itself and will create further unrest and bitterness across the board.
We should retain our borders and join EFTA.
# Soloman 2013-11-29 17:10
It's maybe time for the Yes campaign to start using counter rhetoric, perhaps along the lines of, if Europe doesn't want us then we may have to look at paddling our own canoe.
Maybe that might draw the silence from the EU?
# proudscot 2013-11-29 18:00
Soloman, what might draw some silence from Senor Rajoy, will be when someone askes him where his Spanish fishing fleet will fill their nets, if and when they are denied the rich fishing grounds around Scotland, if indeed we are "forced out of the EU"!!!

I see yet another "egg on face" moment coming to Darling and all other unionist politicians who are lining up to claim an independent Scotland will "not be allowed to use the pound sterling". The new Governor of the Bank of England, Mr. Carney, is now on record as saying he will welcome discussions with Alex Salmond on the subject of a continued currency sharing area.

I look forward to the next FMQs, when the FM interrupts JL's stumbling script reading with this information.
# Marga B 2013-11-30 15:16
proudscot - just a wee word of warning. Don't expect logic, Rajoy does not work to the interests of his fisherman or anything else.

The mentality is obsessive: Spain will not be divided, and if Scotland gets in the way of that, Scotland is the enemy.

No sacrifice is too great to save the unity of the country that in Franco's days was "una, grande y libre" and which the current constitution aims to keep that way (well at least the "una" bit. The rest seems to be falling by the wayside).
# MajorBloodnok 2013-11-29 18:47
With all this dawning realtiy of EU countries splitting into smaller ones, you'd think the EU would put a procedure in place to deal with just such eventualities - instead of just wringing its hands and letting right wing politicians make it up as they go along.
# Teri 2013-11-29 19:18
I think maybe it is time we started putting out questions for all parts of the UK to answer. We could start with:

What are the implications if the English take the rest of the UK out of the EU?

What are the implications for the rest of the UK if Scotland is not party of a Sterling zone?

and many more. We need to focus the rest of UK on the implications for them on many things. They need to begin to question what it means for them when Scotland becomes independent because let's face it, it wont be a bed of roses for them.

Let's hear the unionists lie to the rest of the UK of the truth of what awaits them without Scotland.
# bringiton 2013-11-29 19:28
A question which they must also answer is
What will happen to our electricity bills should we stay with the UK ?
The nuclear power programme that England is embarking on will add huge numbers to electricity bills for many decades to come south of the border.
If we stay with the UK,we will have to pay any "surcharge" on bills levied either by the power companies involved or the Westminster government or both.
This despite the fact,we don't need that electricity in Scotland.
So....tell us the numbers.
# anglopict 2013-11-29 19:52
Of course an Independent Scotland will be able to join the EU. The question is whether it should. For me it would be like a well fed sheep asking to join a pack of wolves but maybe I am a bit cynical in my old age.

The way this is going we will have border guards and customs posts on the M74 and barbed wire along the Border. Is that really what you want?

EEA for both Scotland and RUK with a special relationship with dual citizenship and foreign affairs and defence through a joint council replacing the House of Lords. I would vote for it and so I suspect would most of England. Forget the geeky crap about the Act of Union, successor states and all that BS and leave me free to visit my mother's grave without a passport.
# brucebob 2013-11-29 20:05
I understand all the rhetoric about the undemocratic and self interest of the media but I don't hear anything about how to challenge the fear factor and unionist press and BBC Scotland , we just seem to be reporting on it
Surely someone out there better and more articulate than I can find a way of challenging these stories either globally or eu wide or UK wide
We seem to keep accepting each onslaught on the cheek and writing reports in answer , to ourselves and not to a wider world audience to let them know what oppression we are under from our undemocratic government
# From The Suburbs 2013-11-29 21:49
The EU issue won't have much traction as we can join EFTA and be like poor Norway or offer the prospect of a referendum which would neutralise the issue.

The pound / currency issue is more likely to influence voters.
# gerrydotp 2013-11-29 22:01
Quite, and the Pound/currency won't have any effect on voters. They will still be paid in pounds and they will still be able to spend them.The pound in your pocket will not lose its value because you become independent, it may for a number of other reasons, but not because of independence per se.
# Aplinal 2013-11-30 08:56
"The pound in your pocket will not lose its value"

That brings back memories! Harold Wilson going cap in hand to the IMF. Despite the truth of this IN the UK/rUK/iScotland, any speculation on the respective currencies would damage the economies.

Personally I think that if (when) this negative FUD approach continues next year, there sill come a point - perhaps in the 16 week "neutral" period - when the YES campaign will state.

"The UK government will not support us in our ambition to forge a new country easily, so we have now had to respond to these changing circumstances and will be recommending a new Scottish pound, initially 'pegged' to the pound Sterling. This will enable us to manage our own finances better, saving billions in vanity projects that only benefit London and the SE England and allow us to invest in growing the economy of Scotland.

We wish our friends and neighbours in rUK the best of luck with Sterling"
# gerrydotp 2013-11-30 09:47
Aye - the old ones are the best sir.
I think the EU will fudge it too on the membership issue. Something like "Scotland will cease to become a member at 11:59 on the day before independance day, and be admitted as a full member at 12:01" That would save some face - and the Spanish trawler fleet too.
# graememcallan 2013-11-30 06:03
Quoting From The Suburbs:
The EU issue won't have much traction as we can join EFTA and be like poor Norway or offer the prospect of a referendum which would neutralise the issue.

The pound / currency issue is more likely to influence voters.

It's hard to feel "sorry for poor Norway" ;)
# Dundonian West 2013-11-30 12:05
Chief Editorial Editor The Independent:--
"Oh, to be young and Scottish! I wouldn’t have the slightest hesitation in putting my St Andrew’s cross next September in the “Yes” box, and I hope – for their sake – that this is what a majority of Scots decide to do. This is a time that offers an opportunity without precedent,-------"

-----"When you look at Darling now, though, and you listen to what he says about Scotland, and you hear him saying petulantly, as he did on Monday, that he was “angry, very angry” about what he insisted was the loose way of the Salmond team with its economic figures, did you believe him? Or did you think, as I instinctively did, that Darling, with his clipped phrases, his mock scorn and his negativity, were the past, and the future was somewhere and someone else?"

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