I write blogs to influence debate. It’s always worth noting when they do*.

The SNP led by Nicola Sturgeon have reignited the debate around Scottish independence which culminated in a defeat for the Yes campaign in 2014. But after the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016 – despite most in Scotland opting for Remain – Ms Sturgeon believes she has a mandate to take Scotland into the EU via independence. But this has led to debate surrounding the ease with which Scotland could join the bloc, and the economic repercussions of independence. Tim Worstall – a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute – argued in his article for Forbes in 2016 that the issue could hurt the SNP.

He claimed “there is no easy way for Scotland to get in. It cannot slide through by saying it was already in thus should have an easy time of it or anything”.

He added: “What this means is that Scotland will need to have that second referendum.

“And I think I speak for many if not most English when I say that if they want to leave well, goodbye and good luck.

“Also that they’re going to need that good luck. For the next stage would obviously be to join the European Union, as they say they want to.”

Mr Worstall said from a legal perspective, Scotland could integrate easily, but it wouldn’t be so seamless from an economic perspective.

He continued: “In order to join the EU you’ve got to have a budget deficit of three percent of GDP or less or be obviously (which allows for some fudging) moving in that direction.

“And Scotland, now that oil has plummeted, simply is not there. It’s difficult, given the intertwining of British and Scottish accounts to get it exactly right but reasonable estimates have the Scottish alone budget deficit at 8 to 10 percent of GDP.

“At which point the EU won’t let Scotland in. Not unless they do some fiscal contraction amounting to a good five percent or so of GDP.

“And that’s why the SNP don’t actually want what they’re claiming to want, independence and then EU entry.

“Because imposing that sort of austerity on their own nation, when they are obviously in charge and responsible, would kill them as a political party.”

* That headline might be a quote from someone else.

38 thoughts on “I write blogs to influence debate. It’s always worth noting when they do*.”

  1. EU rules might just be “suggestions.” If EU wants an independent Scotland, they’ll get it.

    The referendum will be the tricky part. EU will have to publicly state before it will take warty Scotland if the referendum is to have any chance of winning. Step 1 fails if Step 2 isn’t assured.

    Considering EU perfidy, a once independent Scotland might find itself a slave to EU, having no negotiating position. EU can force any terms they want.

  2. The Meissen Bison

    If EU wants an independent Scotland, they’ll get it

    An independent Scotland would be blackballed from joining the EU by Spain supported by other member states fearful of encouraging secessionist movements in their own countries.

    Much as the EU itself would like to do anything to annoy the UK, this one will never fly.

  3. An independent Scotland would be blackballed from joining the EU by Spain supported by other member states fearful of encouraging secessionist movements in their own countries.

    You’re right, Spain would be against it. But we all know Spain doesn’t call the shots in the EU. If the Germans want it to happen, it will happen.

  4. It’s a contemptible nonsense to claim that you want independence and also want to join the EU.

    Anyway, if all the parts of Scotland that voted “no” in the referendum decided to stay in the UK only the Glasgow conurbation and Dundee would leave. By a remarkable coincidence those are the parts of Scotland with a high population of Irish. Or Irish “heritage” as people say.

  5. If the Scots do leave, I suggest that to simplify constitutional issues they take HRH Ginger C**t and HRH washed-out Hollywood D-Lister as their sovereigns in Holyrood.

  6. @dearieme

    Dunno if I’d go so far as “contemptible nonsense” but in many ways it’s a repeat of the mistakes the UK made in the past isn’t it – joining a project for the vaunted economic benefits and sense that “that’s where we belong and ought to be”, but not actually desiring the same end-goal that the people at the heart of The Project have? Plenty of senior French and Irish figures say things along the lines of “membership of the EU protects and enhances my country’s sovereignty” – gives us a “voice at the table” of the largest nearby power bloc, helps protect us from the storm of world events etc – but that’s always been at the expense of the ability to act independently in an ever-widening range of areas where responsibilities have passed on to Brussels or Frankfurt. If your national budget needs Commission approval, just how “independent” are you?

    If Scotland does leave the UK, I’m pretty sure it will leave in one piece. Would many Scottish Unionists back partition like the Irish Unionists did? Would either the Westminster or Edinburgh governments want to put up with the inevitable mess? And would die-hard Unionists have access to any levers of power needed to make partition happen, bearing in mind by definition they will have just lost a referendum, lost the previous Scottish election and don’t have the benefit of any equivalent of the Ulster Covenant or Ulster Volunteers?

  7. The thing is they are using EU membership to get what they really want – secession.
    The EU is a virtue signal for people that SNP nationalism isn’t a blood and soil nationalism but cuddly civic nationalism. When they secede (which on current trends will happen within a generation) they can apply to the EU and go on the facade until they are turned down due to the deficit. When this happens Scots will blame the EU not the SNP. If the SNP get into the EU then they get the credit from the Scottish Europhiles. Win win all round

  8. In the end, for independence to happen, somebody has to pay. Somebody outside Jockistan has to want it badly enough to pay for it. Lord knows Sotland can’t. I don’t think anybody wants it that much.

  9. The Meissen Bison

    If the Germans want it to happen, it will happen.

    Angela Merkel won’t be federal chancellor by then and the internal politics in Germany will have changed to the extent that the European Project (if it still exists, of course) will no longer enjoy general cross-party support. Post Merkel the EU’s “frugal four” will become five.

  10. The SNP doesn’t want independence. It wants the maximum freedom to create the Tartan GDR while still having England to pay for it and to blame for any problems.

  11. @rhoda klapp

    All that needs to happen is for someone to persuade 50%+1 of the Scottish electorate that (a) the bill won’t be that high, (b) someone else will pick up any excess tab. It doesn’t need to turn out to be true. And its most vocal proponents may even believe what they’re saying, about the generosity of Brussels (where certainly vocal Scottish membership supporters can be found, regardless of any Spanish reticence) and future economic benefits of EU membership, about “unleashing” the Scottish economy post-independence, that the rump UK will still pay into Edinburgh coffers as part of a separation deal for access to Scottish naval bases or other assets, that the calculations of catastrophic budget deficits come from Unionists and shouldn’t be trusted, that dumping nuclear weapons will somehow pay for it all…

    Spend any time in the Scotnat blogosphere, not just Wings but the rest of them, and there are many activists, often not apparently stupid and working in professional roles, coming up with all kinds of self-justifying economic nonsense that they apparently whole-heartedly believe. Probably harder to claim “The Oil” as their saviour these days but every time Scotland opens a new wind farm there’s an SNP type who claims Wind Is The New Oil is the quest for freedom, or that independence will make Scotland a “Green Energy Superpower”. Incidentally, wasn’t Murphy one of the “Scottish deficit deniers” when he was flirting with the SNP? Far as the mass media are concerned, if an English expert accountant with three professorships doesn’t think Scotland has a deficit problem, any claims to the contrary are clearly Unionist lies…

  12. Considering EU perfidy, a once independent Scotland might find itself a slave to EU, having no negotiating position. EU can force any terms they want.

    This. The EU will screw the Jocks over royally. Just see what they’re trying to do with fishing during the Brexit ‘negotiations’. Scotland winning back its fishing rights due to Brexit then losing then to the CFP would be a pretty hard sell. And that would only be one of the most visible aspects – some of the deals they would be forced to do could be akin to surrendering. If it ever happens I’m buying popcorn shares.

  13. Scotland still has a lot of oil, world price is low atm, but is likely to recover somewhat. We might see a ‘green’ snp government exporting ever greater quantities of oil. The eu will likely welcome scotland in, and even bend the rules a bit to enable it – Scotland is not an economic basket case, and should be a net contributor to the eu budget. But … the eu might then either wish to take over the scottish oil, or interdict it in the name of co2 reductions.
    Also, it crosses my mind that if the Germans see scottish nationalism as anti AngloSaxon, then they might not be all that willing to make it easy for scotland to join the eu.
    An independent, eu joined scotland might go for the irish model, low taxes etc to encourage foreign investment. This has worked very well for ireland, might also do so for scotland.
    There are opportunities and pitfalls for scotland, for england there are mostly benefits to scotland leaving.
    I only hope that sturgeon falls into a deep muddy puddle.

  14. @ MBE
    If Scotland secedes from the UK Orkney and Zetland might well secede from Scotland (maybe rejoin Norway). They were massively anti-SNP.
    Also since a lot of “Scotland’s oil” is actually Zetland’s oil it’s almost a cold-water Kuwait: they would be financially independent, unlike Scotland which has been subsidised for the last 313 years.

  15. Wee Krankie should be arrested for Treason but that might give her some martyr status.

    The way is to break both the Scots and Welsh “Parliaments” by putting a lead on them . By ensuring their Marxist antics are curbed. No votes for 16 yr olds no Commissars for every child–just STOP all the excesses of SNP/PC.

    Stopping their extreme antics shows their weakness but in a way that will not upset anyone NOT a Marxist stooge.

  16. There is no way the English consumer would pay fancy prices for Scottish wind power after independence. All those windmills spinning furiously and nobody wants the electricity. Maybe they could put a cable across the North Sea and sell direct to the Continent?

  17. Tim’s point is that while we have read “1984” as a dreadful warning several groups of mArxists-in-disguise have read it as an instruction manual. Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania were in a never-ending war that enabled the Party to maintain power during a “national emergency” so every time someone was in danger of absolutely losing one of the winning pait switched sides. The SNP wants a never-ending battle for independence to give them power for ever. If Westminster ever tossed them the keys and walked away the SNP would fragment into different sub-cults within months.

  18. @ Peter
    One of the things about wind-power in the UK is that the amount of power generated by wind is negatively correlated with demand (and marginally positively correlated with the amount of surplus power generated on the continent that they export to England). So, if we ever got to zero-carbon energy, the price that they would get for electricity exports would be zero most of the time and the marginal cost of nuclear power for the rest. Of course the chance of ever getting to zero-carbon is minimal but it’s worth pointing this out in case anyone tries to tell you that we could export surplus windpower (Norway already has a deal with Denmark to take its occasional windpower surplus to store as pumped hydro and to meet Denmark’s frequent shortage from its hydro, pumped or other).
    We are already building a cable across the North Sea so that Norway’s hydroelectricity can be used as a back-up for the National Grid.

  19. MBE, no need for a separation deal to include the naval bases. England could do with Faslane what South Africa did with Walvis Bay which remained under South African sovereignty until 1992. Since when it has been under joint South African/Namibian control.

  20. JerryC

    ‘If the Germans want it to happen, it will happen.’

    They won’t. They’ll have to pay for it. Currently England pays for Scotland, why would Germany want to take over?

  21. “Scotland which has been subsidised for the last 313 years.” Most unlikely since Scotland industrialised more thoroughly than England. It was the decline of the old industries- or rather the failure to replace them – that turned the tables.

    Plus – at least emotionally if not economically – Edward Heath’s decision to betray the fishermen. There wasn’t much chance of Scotland voting Conservative again after that.

  22. @ Rhoda Klapp

    I think most of the English would pick up the tab to say goodbye to the porridge wogs.

  23. @ dearieme
    1707 was definitely a deal that involved a major subsidy to Scotlanf from England.
    I totally agree with your condemnation of Ted Heath’s betrayal of the fishermen, (I don’t actually know whether it was deliberate or just appallingly incompetent but I strongly suspect the former as part of a negotiating deal with the EEC).
    As to industrialisation: how much of Scotland outside Glasgow and its environs? I should like to see some data to back up your claim.
    The “Barnett formula” recognised that there was a massive continuing subsidy and was designed to control the size of it so your claim is that sometime *before* the collapse in shipbuilding and heavy engineering there was a drop in the relative performance of the Scots economy relative to the English of some 30%. That was true before 1707 but I am not aware of it happening after the industrial revolution and before the introduction of the Barnett formula.

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    Some of us were willing to accept there could be a short to medium term economic impact to vote Brexit because (1) sovereignty is more important and (2) we think that we’ll be better off in the medium to long term with out the dead hand of the EU interfering in our affairs.

    There’s no reason why the SNP couldn’t make a similar argument, except that it would have to concede Brexit argument. So instead they tie themselves in to a Gordian Knot looking for justifications for their policy that aren’t similar to our Brexit arguments and they’re so bereft of ideas they even had to call on the clown world renowned political economist Spud Murphy to help them out.

  25. “The SNP doesn’t want independence. It wants the maximum freedom to create the Tartan GDR while still having England to pay for it and to blame for any problems.”

    This x 1000. The SNP would shit themselves if they won a referendum. Their economy would be shot to pieces, they have no idea what currency they would or could use, all the money and business would flow south like water running down a hill. All they want is a big megaphone to abuse England with, all the while taking England’s money. The prerogative of the harlot.

  26. ‘All they want is a big megaphone to abuse England with, all the while taking England’s money. The prerogative of the harlot.’

    Damn, Jim. Sounds like Blacks over here.

  27. Plenty of senior French and Irish figures say things along the lines of “membership of the EU protects and enhances my country’s sovereignty” – gives us a “voice at the table” of the largest nearby power bloc, helps protect us from the storm of world events etc

    For Ireland, Scandinavia and the Low Countries, there’s some truth in the ‘seat at the top table’ argument. But Germany, UK and France (and maybe Italy, too) would get that seat anyway. And the price for the seat is that the EU may be using it to argue for things that are not in your national interest.

    That Spain would veto an independent Scotland’s membership bid, is almost certainly true, but Belgium wouldn’t be far behind, and France and Italy have their own fissiparous tendencies to worry about.

    Finally, as Tim has often pointed out, as long as fracking is available somewhere in the world, oil is never going back to $100 as anything other than a short-term hiccup. And the SNP couldn’t make the finances of independence stand up even at that level.

  28. FFS – how many times, do not concede ground to them by arguing on a battlefield of their choosing.
    The Spiteful Nannying Party lost the last once in a generation vote when they had a charismatic leader, oil over $100, BBC scotland as cheerleader, got to choose the question ( thanks dave ) commonwealth games and they still lost by a substantial margin.
    They have no other reason to exist other than to cause a fight in an empty room, its their sole talent.

    Orkney & Shetland have mooted becoming a crown dependancy like Channel Islands or Mann, lot easier than joining another country, they get to keep all the oil and pay the crown an agreed sum for foreign affairs defence etc. (Which crown – now there’s an argument – Norwegian, English, Scottish or British?)
    Long term – fishing may be worth more than oil,UK is floating on gas if they ever go for it, which makes all the offshore stuff uneconomic.

    How to piss in krankies porage, propose a Western Isle to become the new Hong Kong, there must be a couple with a population of around 500 and the same size as Hong Kong Island, autonomous Island operating under Cowperthwaites rules.

  29. The SNP would shit themselves if they won a referendum.

    It’s the old question about dogs chasing cars and what would happen if they ever caught one.

    Scotland would become the Venezuela of the north, but with ugly women.

  30. I’m quite remote, but should Scotland secede, UK just keeps the Orkneys. Scotland can go fvck themselves. What are they going to do about it?

    Scotland has double ought zero military. After separating from UK, UK can tell Norway|Denmark, “You want Scotland? We won’t interfere if you take it.”

    “Lichtenstein, you want it? You got it!”

  31. Writing a budget to get the Scot government deficit down to 0% of GDP is trivially easy. The key would be negotiating a 0% deal on the Scot share of the UK national debt. But England are our friends and am sure they would willing defer interest for say 20 years. Then you do something like
    – abolish farmland owner subsidies
    – legalise and tax recreational drugs, including khat, spice
    – decriminalise brothels
    – abolish arts subsidies
    – devolve fishing rights to Local Authorities with ports
    – put the tolls back on the bridges
    – apply a CO2 tax, congestion charge the big cities, and bring back tolls on bridges, remove the subsidies to transport. Only Scotland could operate two subsidised ferry services in competition to unsubsidised ones.
    – no foreign development aid , free people can donate their own money if they care so much
    – permit fracking and remove green energy subsidies
    – charge for university tuition, and hospital parking
    – abolish SDLT
    Going off the OECD estimates that subsidies in particular reduce GDP by 6 times the amount spent, and you are practically there.

    If the Scottish government wants to go into surplus then reform NHS Scotland and bring in an SHI system. But that’s a long term gain, so can’t include it for now.

  32. GC

    After separating from UK, UK can tell Norway|Denmark, “You want Scotland? We won’t interfere if you take it.”

    Steady on, don’t want to start giving ideas. That smiley Comrade Xi Jinping has loads of form for land grabs; and willfully misinterpreting events. And Hadrian’s Wall really isn’t very big.

    Unfortunately, defence of the peat bogs is something the porridge wogs know that we’ll stump up for in any case. As Crun said, we can give them a peppercorn for Faslane (and Lossiemouth and one or two others as military bases – Cyprus style), that should keep both sides happy…

  33. Bloke in North Dorset

    If Scotland doesn’t gain independence we need to fix the West Lothian question. The SNP has been flexing its muscles in Parliament and with the left’s hatred of Boris is more likely to but we have some insulation with the current Tory majority p. As son as that starts slipping we’ll see a coalition of the left stuffing England. They SNP had no right to vote on Sunday trading laws in England but they got away with it because it was a cross party issue.

  34. BIND, couldn’t agree more but you’re not taking it far enough.
    Main problem in country is overcentralisation in Whitehall, which the left will exploit WHEN they get back in.
    As Raedwald keeps saying, we need to adopt the canton model and decide / fund as much as possible at County level.
    Krankie like a good socialist centralised everything in Edinburgh.
    If Liverpool wants something, Liverpool can fund it, organise/construct it and stop expecting the rest of the country to pay for it.
    The Spiteful Nannying Party regime North of the border only works due to vote buying, the profitable parts of Scotland are soaked to pour money into the never ending maw of greater glasgow, spike their guns permanently too.
    Only defence, foreign affairs, air traffic control, customs and national roads/ rail run centrally, everything else run locally. ( no bloody NHS either – fund and run it locally)
    It works in Swiss after all.

  35. “Only defence, foreign affairs, air traffic control, customs and national roads/ rail run centrally, everything else run locally. ( no bloody NHS either – fund and run it locally)
    It works in Swiss after all.”

    The trouble with that is one assumes Switzerland doesn’t have the equivalent of Wales. Or NI. Or Stoke. Under the model you propose vast swathes of the country couldn’t afford the level of provision it has now in schools hospitals welfare etc. They are just too poor. How exactly is Merthyr Tydfil going to pay enough taxes to pay for its healthcare system, given most of them are on benefits anyway? It would be a downward spiral – taxes would rise on the few businesses and individuals who had something to tax, they would leave and places would be left like Detroit. Every single person in large parts of the country are effectively subsidised by people in other areas (mainly the SE and London), and without that subsidy would live far worse lives. Even if that was considered a good outcome its never going to fly politically – who is going to vote for themselves to be impoverished overnight?

    Its the reason I keep saying, the current western political system will not be reformed, it cannot be. It will only change when it has to, ie it collapses. It will end with a bang not a whimper.

  36. As has been said Orkney & Shetland can move to independence from Edinburgh – heck, they can use the same arguments the SNP use against London!
    Multiple outlying regions will do the same – for similar reasons.

    Go independent, join England in whatever union etc.

    Come to think of it, what happens when all the military bases in Scotland get shut? UK doesn’t keep its armed forces permanently in foreign lands without a reason. And Scotland can pay for its own defence – perhaps 10 billion a year for a few ships and a squadron of planes for local defence. Add in a regiment maybe for the hooligans to join. That’s a major chunk of budget used but allows Scotland to join NATO.

    Or they could just keep an eye out the window for being buzzed by Russian bombers doing flyovers. England won’t care unless they approach the border.

    Still, look on the bright side. If SNP do manage to get Scotland into the EU then they can give jobs to all those foreign workers with the right to travel!

    I do sometimes wonder what the rest of the UK is going to do with those foreign nationals living here. Are they allowed to work? Or do we send the 3 million or so back north of the border?

  37. @TMB, @dearieme, @MC
    +1
    Splitting Scotland in two would be an interesting experiment

    SNP Socialist ‘industrial’ Glasgow/Strathclyde conurbation vs Unionist Capitalist Edinburgh & rest

    On EU – Spain and Italy and maybe France would veto as they have independence issues too. Germany? Why would they want a nation of teat sucking moaning gits?

    @johnnybonk
    Oil? Not as much as they claim and oil didn’t save Socialist Venezuela or Nigeria

  38. “I do sometimes wonder what the rest of the UK is going to do with those foreign nationals living here.”

    Right now nothing makes them Scottish Nationals. There would have to be a definition, and place of residence seems the only way. Or let us ALL choose which side of the wall we want to be, them as well as us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *