Breakaway Scotland 'would have to register itself as new country'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

SNP rejects UK Coalition lawyers' claims that independent country would have to reapply to join EU

A breakaway Scotland would be a "new state" under international law and have to renegotiate membership of the European Union and the United Nations, according to legal advice obtained by the Government.

The monumental challenges facing a newly independent Scotland are disclosed in a 57-page dossier published today that represents London's opening shot against separation.

The paper claims that Scottish ministers would need to wade through 14,000 separate treaties that have been signed by the United Kingdom, and apply afresh to join international bodies.

If the people of Scotland vote to leave the UK in 2016, their country would have a similar legal status to South Sudan, which became the world's newest country when it obtained independence from Sudan in 2011, the report indicates.

The legal advice on disentangling the 305-year-old Act of Union is published days after Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, set out plans to declare independence in March 2016 in the event of a vote in autumn 2014 in favour of separation.

According to the legal advice commissioned by Whitehall, the "overwhelming weight" of precedence points to Scotland being treated as a new state rather than a "continuing state". That would mean Scotland having to apply afresh for membership of a host of international bodies.

An independent Scotland's potential status within the EU has proved highly controversial. The SNP insists it would automatically join the bloc, while critics have claimed it would have to reapply for membership, which could well be blocked.

The new legal advice was drawn up by Professor James Crawford, of Cambridge University, and Professor Alan Boyle, of Edinburgh University, who are experts on international law.

"If Scotland became independent, only the remainder of the UK would automatically continue to exercise the same rights, obligations and powers under international law as the UK currently does," they say.

One Whitehall source pointed to the number of treaties to be examined as evidence of Mr Salmond setting out an unrealistic timetable for independence. "Some of the treaties are obviously obsolete, but they would need to go through all of them," the source said. "To take one example, if you wanted to sign a new extradition treaty with America it would take a long time with lots of meetings with lawyers – it would be a very complex process."

The paper is the first product of a drive by Whitehall to examine key policy areas to make the case to stay in the Union . Others include currency policy, taxation, welfare spending, defence and North Sea oil revenues.

David Cameron said ahead of the paper's launch: "The Scottish people still have many months to think about this decision and they are hungry for facts, evidence and expert opinion to help them make up their minds."

But Scotland's Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, retorted: "This is an act of breath-taking arrogance by this Tory-led UK Government, which completely shatters their claim that Scotland is an equal partner within the existing UK – it will only serve to boost support for an independent Scotland." She said other eminent legal authorities had reached very different views about Scotland's status if it votes to pull out of the UK.

Scottish Independence: The questions Alex Salmond must answer

International Would Scotland open embassies abroad? Could it join the European Union and other international institutions immediately?

Welfare How would it cope with the demands of a rapidly ageing population?

Business and infrastructure What would be the effect on major firms operating across the UK? How would Scotland fund large transport projects?

Economic performance Would Scotland's economy fare better inside or outside the UK? Would it lose from having direct access to the rest of the UK for its goods? As a small country, would it be more vulnerable to economic turmoil globally?

Currency What currency would an independent Scotland adopt?

Debt and borrowing How much of the UK debt would Scotland inherit?

Tax and spending How would Scotland maintain its level of services outside the UK?

Banking What would happen to its financial services if Scotland went it alone? What would be the impact on Scottish-based life insurers and mortgage providers who do most of their business south of the border?

Defence What would Scotland's armed forces look like? What would happen to UK military bases, equipment and manpower in Scotland – and to Faslane, home to Britain's nuclear deterrent?

Borders Would border checks be carried out between Scotland and England? Would there be a Scottish passport?

Oil revenues How much of the oil money would flow to Edinburgh? Would Scotland be able to maintain services as revenues declined?

Culture and heritage What impact would Scottish independence have on the shared history of the UK? Would the Queen remain head of state? What would happen to the BBC?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future