Scotland could join Scandinavia, warns official report

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Scotland could break away from the rest of the United Kingdom and align itself with Scandinavia unless the Government radically reforms itself, a Whitehall planning paper has predicted.

Scotland could break away from the rest of the United Kingdom and align itself with Scandinavia unless the Government radically reforms itself, a Whitehall planning paper has predicted.

A report from officials in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) suggested that many departments should cease to exist in a new "joined up" system of government, to prevent England becoming an isolated, protectionist country. But the predictions were ridiculed yesterday by John Edmonds, the general secretary of the GMB general union, who said they would be "more at home in the script of a Hollywood disaster movie".

The DTI, whose Future Unit produced the paper, which is intended to forecast the implications of globalisation, said it had not been seen by ministers. The report was based partly on a series of high-level policy discussions.

The paper set out three scenarios for the possible results of globalisation, which the DTI said had already led to huge increases in trade and falling transport costs.

In the first scenario, the Government would fail to keep up with the demands of a changing world and the markets would grow, unchecked by regulations. The Civil Service would be increasingly unable to attract "the brightest and the best" and the Government would be continually out-smarted by business.

The second, most optimistic outcome, talked about the need for a "knowledge society", where a slimmed-down government restrained the market, and where existing departments were replaced by groups of specialists and "joined-up" project teams.

In the third, most gloomy scenario, the Government's future structure would not be inclusive enough.

"Scotland is threatening to break away, seeing its future with the Nordic countries rather than the UK. The DTI, however, is larger, because the complex tariffs and other protective mechanisms which it devises and operates are seen as an important part of a revived English national identity, protecting our jobs."

The report also said the third scenario would lead to a large, alienated underclass and low economic growth.

"The United Kingdom is engaged in continual lowintensity trade wars both inside and outside Europe and soft security threats mass on the borders of the EU," it predicts.

Despite his attack on the apocalyptic visions in the paper, Mr Edmonds said it recognised a genuine need for reform. "It shows that the case for an overhaul of the way the Government functions is now being made in the Government's own back yard. Ministers have been keen to call for the modernisation of almost all other areas of society. Now, the time has come for them to begin to put their own houses in order. The DTI would be a very good place to start."

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