Editorial: A reality check for Alex Salmond

Share
Related Topics

After all the bombast, reality is intruding on Alex Salmond at last. Brussels is yet to issue a formal confirmation, but a letter from the European Commission to a House of Lords committee sets out clearly that, were Scotland to split from the United Kingdom, it would have to reapply for EU membership.

At the very least, the clarification is an embarrassment for the Scottish First Minister. Not only has Mr Salmond repeatedly claimed that an independent Scotland would automatically remain within the EU; he already faces accusations of "lying" over an interview suggesting such pronouncements were based on legal advice which had, in fact, never been sought.

But the ramifications of the Commission's letter do not end there. It also exposes the extent to which the Scottish National Party leader has oversold independence.

Mr Salmond has certainly talked a good game, painting an unrestrainedly rosy picture of a Scotland comfortably financed by North Sea oil, liberated from the costly and self-serving priorities of Westminster yet still safely ensconced within Europe. He even speaks airily of a post-independence break-up of the BBC, turning the existing assets of the Corporation's Scottish arm into a new national broadcaster.

Real life is, of course, both more complex and less certain. Far from business-as-usual in its relations with Europe, a go-it-alone Scotland will have to start again from scratch, not just on membership but on British-brokered opt-outs such as the single currency, or the Schengen passport-free area. And all this in the teeth of opposition from existing members – not least Spain – keen to discourage separatist rumblings of their own.

Europe is, of course, just the beginning of the story. Scotland's share of Britain's hydrocarbon revenues is also a hotly contested issue, and with output declining, the North Sea is no long-term bet regardless. With less cash coming in, it is far from clear how all the promises of state largesse can be funded. Carried away by his own rhetoric, the Scottish First Minister wants it all his own way. Welcome to the real world, Mr Salmond.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Teaching Assistants urgently r...

Primary Teacher

£85 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:We are looking for a ...

Primary Teacher

£85 - £135 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education is the UK ...

KS1 Teacher

£80 - £100 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Key stage 1 Teacher - Gloucest...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Scottish polls, canvass returns and arguments. And Top 10 Tweets

John Rentoul
 

Letter from the Personal Finance Editor: Cutting out the middle man could spell disaster for employees and consumers alike

Simon Read
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week