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?

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit