Scotland’s independence is a British matter. The Union, which followed the vote in 1707 of the Scots parliament to dissolve into a new legislature created in London, is the basis of the United Kingdom. If Scotland leaves, following a ‘yes’ to independence in next year’s referendum on the issue, two new states will be created: Scotland, and the Rest of the UK (rUK), which as yet hasn’t thought of a name for itself. The Rest must have a voice on the terms under which their present nation-state is to be destroyed.
That voice will take the form of a negotiation. If the Scottish National Party, in its push for independence, had remained determined to have as little to do with those British institutions which Scotland shares as possible – the monarchy, the currency, defence and foreign policy – then there would have been a negotiation, but only one to sever connections and staunch what wounds would be inflicted by the severance on the rUK.
But that proud attitude, attended in the writings of nationalism’s intellectuals with much contempt for England, has been greatly modified. The monarchy will remain. Scotland will stay in Nato. The pound sterling will remain its currency. All of these shifts in present SNP policy, were they to be agreed with rUK, would depend upon technically and politically difficult issues for both parties, but particularly for the Scottish side.
The monarchy would likely be the easy one. The queen would, presumably, agree to add another of several independent states to her formal suzerainty, and the arrangements would, presumably, be made with their customary smoothness and deference.
But what would remaining in Nato mean for Scotland’s defence posture? How far would it cooperate with rUK in continuing to host the nuclear submarine fleet and its onshore technical support at Faslane on the Clyde – since the SNP retains an anti-nuclear stance? Would rUK continue to wish to base the centrepiece of its strategic defence posture in a...