4 Characterising a future RUK-Scotland
bilateral relationship |
The foreign policy posture of
the RUK's closest neighbour
106. Dr Kaarbo told us that she anticipated that
Scotland would be "a liberal, open-trading state, embracing
interdependence [...] that would be very similar to UK foreign
Catarina Tully told us Scotland would engage in "typical
small-state diplomacy", with a foreign policy that is narrowly
focused on soft power, economic intentions and national strategic
a result, the RUK would share many common interests resulting
in a high degree of convergence in their foreign policies.
107. While more information about aspects of
Scotland's future foreign policy have gradually begun to emerge
in recent months, its totality remains unclear and information
on a range of key foreign policy issues remains unknown. What
is now clear is that Scotland would want to: endorse NATO membership
(albeit as a non-nuclear state and one which reserves the right
to refuse to not engage in 'out of area' operations); that it
would emphasise the 'High North' and relations with Nordic and
Scandinavian countries; that it would allocate £2.5 billion
to security and defence; and that its foreign policy priorities
would be "to advance Scotland's economic interests, to protect
its citizens and assets and to play a responsible role as a good
global citizen, contributing to peace across the world".
More information has also been published on an independent Scotland's
defence posture (a subject the Defence Committee is scrutinising)
which goes hand in hand with Scotland's foreign policy choices
and priorities. As the RUK's closest would-be neighbour, the decisions
that Scotland would take in respect of its foreign policy would
have an important impact on the overall nature of the bilateral
relationship and on the FCO's work.
Co-operation or competition?
108. One of the strongest themes present in Scottish
Government statements on Scotland's future foreign policy is the
notion that the Scotland-RUK bilateral relationship would be a
close and constructive one, that it would be a "partnership
and that "where now decisions are taken in London alone,
with independence we will be able to take them together".
From a security and defence perspective, the Scottish Government
wants to pursue joint procurement as well as shared conventional
basing, training and logistics arrangements.
The Deputy First Minister also told us that Scotland would work
"closely with the FCO network"
and referred to the "increasing tendency towards co-operation"
in terms of consular activity, shared premises and shared services.
She added that "we contribute to [...] the current FCO network
and would be entitled to a share of assets. We would look to share
premises with not just the rest of the UK but other countries".
109. What is not clear, however, is the extent
to which the RUK may be willing or indeed able to co-operate with
an independent Scotland or how much this might cost the Scottish
Government. For instance, in terms of requests for diplomatic
and consular co-operation, the Minister of State, David Lidington,
told us that "British Ministers faced with that decision
would say, 'where do the interests of people and companies in
the remaining United Kingdom lie'". He added that there would
most likely be a cost for securing some services.
Under existing arrangements, and assuming that Scotland became
a member of the Commonwealth or EU, the UK could provide some
first-line consular assistance to Scottish citizens where Scotland
had no diplomatic presence. However, the FCO cautioned that these
arrangements would not extend to particularly challenging or sensitive
cases or ones where there was an expectation that assistance would
be provided directly by the country concerned. The FCO argued
that this could have a significant impact on Scottish citizens
involved in overseas crises involving child abduction, forced
marriage or criminal cases.
110. Similarly, while bilateral co-operation
in the field of trade may be the aspiration, witnesses told us
that in practice, because Scotland and the RUK were likely to
focus on similar overseas markets, competition could overtake
co-operation as a key feature of the bilateral relationship. The
FCO stated that burden-sharing arrangements for business services
do not exist at an inter-state level and that an independent Scotland
would not have access to UKTI networks and resources. It added
that "independence would mean that Scottish companies and
potential foreign investors in Scotland would lose access to that
global network, and risk missing out on investment in the form
of jobs, skills, capital and tax revenue from all over the world".
Mr Lidington told us that he was concerned that Scottish Ministers
"are keen to give the impression that the current arrangements
for trade promotion and investment promotion will just continue
as normal when they are in no position to give such a guarantee,
having failed to spell out the model that they imagine happening".
The Minister of State said:
I am very far from clear at the moment how the Scottish
Government expects that an independent Scotland would provide
the diplomatic network and diplomatic heft to promote the Scotch
whisky industry, to promote Scottish financial services, to promote
defence sales from Scotland, particularly given their stance on
defence policy. It seems to me that is a gap in their own public
preparations that is for them to fill.
111. In written evidence, Dr Kenealy suggested
that "an independent Scotland could emerge as a key competitor
of the RUK in the contest for inward investment, and that the
FCO (along with UKTI) would have to strategise and respond accordingly".
He added that "with full powers over tax policy, Scotland
could lower corporation tax in an effort to make itself a more
attractive investment climate".
There is a risk, according to the European Policy Centre, that
ultimately both Scotland and the RUK would suffer adverse consequences:
There is no guarantee of course that the Scottish
economy would flourish on its own. In case of independence, the
border between Scotland and the RUK would gain in importance,
and significant asymmetries would emerge thanks to the different
regulatory regimes, subsidies, labour markets and levels of taxation.
The new border could even lead some companies to refrain from
investing anywhere on the island at all, for fear that it would
become a more fragmented and less predictable market.
112. In spite of the many likely foreign policy
similarities outlined above, the idea that Scotland's foreign
policy would be different to that of the UK has become something
of a leitmotif for the Scottish Government. Professor Chalmers
noted that the Scottish Government seeks sovereignty not "because
they want to launch a twenty-first century Darien adventure, but
because they want Scotland to have the right of refusal in future
British military adventures, of which the most controversial recent
example was the invasion of Iraq in 2003".
He added that "this rejection of key aspects of UK defence
policy is given added force by the widespread opposition within
Scotland to the basing of nuclear-armed Trident submarines at
Professor Walker told us that:
This is about looking out at the world in a rather
different way, and not thinking about big expeditionary forces
and not playing this major global power role that the UK has tried
to play for a very long time. I think that they imagine, rightly
or wrongly, that they just do not need so much to defend themselves
and that, in fact, perhaps the UK exaggerates the amount of expenditure,
resources and capability that it needs to defend itself.
Although Catarina Tully told us that the key difference
would be "one of style and the vision of itself", she
also suggested that Scotland may choose to pursue substantively
different policies in respect of energy, trade and fisheries.
113. We also received evidence about a potential
for divergence on the issue of migration and border control. On
the face of it, there would be little scope for disagreement:
the Scottish Government has stated that for practical and geographical
reasons it would seek an opt-out from Schengen Agreement to enable
it to continue existing arrangements for visa-free travel within
the British Isles and the Republic of Ireland under the Common
Travel Area. The idea was supported by a number of witnesses who
warned that to do otherwise would lead to "the nonsense of
20-mile tailbacks of trucks on the M74" with "border
posts and biometric checking along Hadrian's Wall".
However, witnesses noted that in practice, there was a high probability
that Scotland would pursue a less restrictive immigration policy
than the RUK and,
in these circumstances, or in the event that Scotland could not
secure an opt-out to Schengen, the RUK may seek to impose some
form of border check.
Professor Whitman told us that "it is probably an area in
which the UK would be sensible to think through what kind of relationship
it wants to have to the Schengen zone in the future and how it
would cope with having a state as a neighbour that was in the
Schengen zone, and having that sort of border arising".
114. Earlier in this report we discussed the
possible international implications for the RUK of the Scottish
Government's stance on nuclear weapons (see above at Paragraph
66). Nuclear policy would also be a key issue in bilateral relations
and would be one of the most striking areas of foreign policy
divergence between the RUK and Scotland. For the UK, maintaining
its nuclear status is critical to its current foreign policy posture
whereas the Scottish Government is committed to removing the UK's
nuclear weapons from Scotland. In 2012, the SNP pledged to introduce
a constitutional provision in the event of independence making
it illegal to have nuclear weapons on Scottish territory or in
Scottish waters. Giving evidence to us, Ms Sturgeon said that
the Scottish Government would be "a responsible Government
and a responsible partner" on this matter to ensure that
the UK's nuclear deterrent was removed "in the speediest
safe way possible".
115. The Scottish Affairs Committee took evidence
on what the "speediest safe transition" could mean in
practice and concluded that it would be possible to deactivate
Trident within a matter of days, and for the nuclear warheads,
missiles and submarines to be removed from Scotland within twenty
four months, assuming that there was full co-operation between
the Scottish and UK Governments.
Faced with this prospect, the RUK would need to make decisions
on the future of its deterrent and consider the international
implications of the renewal and relocation of the Trident nuclear
116. The current Government, however, states
that voluntarily relinquishing its nuclear status is not an option.
Two other options are routinely mooted. The first option would
be for the two parties to enter in an agreement to enable the
RUK nuclear force to remain in Scotland, temporarily, until a
timescale for relocation could be agreed. In practice this could
involve significant difficulties. It would require continuing
liaison between RUK and Scottish military and security forces
based in Scotland, together with a clear agreement on submarine
and warhead movement in Scottish waters and on Scottish roads.
This arrangement would, however, be far from ideal; even assuming
goodwill on both sides, Scotland would be hosting nuclear weapons
contrary to the SNP's stated policy to remove them, and the RUK
would have its entire nuclear deterrent based in another sovereign
state, raising crucial issues over command, control and sovereignty.
Professor Chalmers said:
As part of the condition for Irish independence,
they agreed to treaty ports for the Royal Navy, and the Royal
Navy stayed in Ireland until 1938. [...] When we came to 1938,
when the Royal Navy was facing its biggest challenge, that was
precisely the moment at which the Irish said, "No, we want
to maintain neutrality in the coming war. These ships have to
go." The relevance of that for today is that I think there
would be ways found, in this scenario, to manage this issue in
the short term, because Scotland would not want to be seen to
be pushing the much bigger power on which it would rely. But would
the RUK want to continue to base its only nuclear deterrent in
a foreign country on which it might not be able to rely in times
of intensified threat? After all, the nuclear deterrent, if it
is ever to be relevant, will be in times of existential crisis,
not in the sort of period we are talking about now.
117. The second option is the relocation
of the RUK's nuclear capabilities south of the border. The technical
challenges implicit in this have been considered in detail by
both the Scottish Affairs and Defence Committees and in other
publications, and we do not intend to repeat them in detail here.
In short, it would present huge logistical, planning and political
challenges for the RUK, involving controversial and significant
infrastructure investment, population movement and the construction
of new facilities, which in turn would considerably increase the
current capital cost estimates for the renewal project "by
£10 billion [...] and possibly a great deal more if the problems
faced became significant".
118. Professor Chalmers told us that:
It is not by any means clear [...] with the information
that I have, that an alternative location could be found [...]
but even if you believed such a location could exist, it would
take a period of certainly more than a decade and perhaps significantly
longer for relocation to take place.
Given these circumstances, Professor Sir David Omand
told the Committee that he thought the issue of Trident's re-location
could be "a deal-breaker":
I do not see a feasible alternative site at reasonable
cost. The cost would presumably fall on the Scottish Government
as part of the overall settlement, which in itself would have
to be made clear to the Scottish people before the referendumthat
a big bill would be attached to that particular part of the policy.
119. The RUK could also find its negotiating
position and bilateral relations with Scotland constrained and
affected by its need to reassure the international community that
it was not placing undue pressure on its newly independent neighbour
to continue to host RUK nuclear weapons against Scottish will.
There could be international consequences for Scotland,
too. Written evidence from the London-based think tank, the British
American Security Information Council, stated that "unless
Scotland is willing to be seen as an outlier within the Alliance
its new government would need to be cautious in moving too quickly
to force expulsion of nuclear weapons from its territory. This
would make enemies very quickly, and it's not clear how the rest
of the UK could comply".
Likewise, Professor Walker stated that he could not imagine Scotland,
a small state in NATO, being allowed to coerce the UK into giving
up its nuclear deterrent. Professor Chalmers told us that there
would be little international sympathy, at least amongst the UK's
traditional allies, if Scotland was to insist that the UK's nuclear
deterrent leave on a timescale that did not allow the RUK to construct
alternative bases. Such a policy could "throw a big spanner
in the post-referendum negotiations" and induce a robust
response from the RUK and its traditional allies, "perhaps
even a questioning of whether it could support Scotland's NATO
and EU aspirations".
Professor Omand stated that the reaction from NATO allies to this
scenario, in particular the US and France, would be "hostile"
and that this "creates exactly the wrong kind of environment
for an independent Scotland to try to establish itself in the
international community, NATO and the European Union".
120. In contrast, if Scotland was willing to
accommodate RUK concerns on this issue, it would place it in a
strong position to expect RUK support on other issues.
However, the extent to which the Scottish Government would have
room to manoeuvre politically given its commitment to ensure a
speedy expulsion of Trident is unclear.
121. The Scottish Government's
commitment to removing the UK's nuclear deterrent from Scotland
would, if delivered, have far-reaching bilateral, foreign, security
and budgetary consequences for both states. It is also likely
to have a significant effect on the willingness of the UK to co-operate
on other issues upon which Scotland may need assistance, as well
as influencing its overall position on the independence settlement.
Any resulting disarmament by the RUK would be received badly by
the UK's key allies and could create problems for Scotland with
other NATO and EU Members as it forged a path as a new state.
While the Scottish Government's commitment to removing nuclear
weapons is not in question, international factors may constrain
its ability to realise its goal and could mean that Scotland might
not be nuclear-free for another generation.
122. The Scottish Government argues that independence
would provide Scotland with the freedom to make its own choices
and forge its own foreign policy path, unbound by the constraints
of the Union. The evidence we received suggests that in practice,
Scotland's foreign policy would be heavily influenced by the position
of its larger, more powerful neighbour, the RUK. In bilateral
trade terms alone, Scotland would remain heavily tied to the RUK
if trade patterns continue as they are at present. England is
Scotland's main trading partner: in 2011, the value of Scottish
exports (excluding oil and gas) was estimated at £69.4 billion.
Of this, exports to the rest of the UK accounted for an estimated
£45.5 billion (an increase of £1.9 billion since 2010).
123. It would not be wholly one-sided: Scotland
would remain strategically important to the UK, particularly as
a NATO ally with valuable naval and air facilities, access to
the Atlantic and North Seas and under-sea and offshore oil and
gas reserves. Interdependency in terms of electricity, telecommunications,
finance and banking information systems and air defence would
also speak to enduring links and continuing interdependency.
In one area in particular, however, Scotland's needs may far exceed
those of the RUK, as we discuss below.
SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE
124. Every year, in excess of £2 billion
is allocated to the UK's security and intelligence agencies to
combat threats to national security and critical infrastructure
ranging from those judged to be the most serious (including cybercrime,
international terrorism, a foreign crisis drawing in Britain,
natural hazards such as severe coastal flooding or an influenza
pandemic) to lesser threats including organised crime and satellite
over many decades, this vast cross-governmental network, which
provides law enforcement agencies in every part of the UK with
relevant information and intelligence, derives partly from the
UK's externally focused security agencies, specifically the Secret
Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Headquarters
(GCHQ), both of which work closely with the FCO and for which
the Foreign Secretary has ministerial responsibility.
125. In the event of independence, it is likely
that the RUK would argue strenuously that it would retain the
intelligence and security capacities and infrastructure outlined
above. If this was the case, it would be, according to Professor
Sir David Omand, the former UK Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator
and head of GCHQ, "perfectly capable of looking after itself".
In contrast, unless it succeeded in negotiating otherwise, Scotland,
it's Government, and its law enforcement agencies would be cut
out of the intelligence loop upon independence. Support would
become discretionary on the part of the RUK and other international
partners. In such a situation, Professor Omand warned that "problems
could arise in respect of counter-terrorism or cyber security
where a lack of appropriate investment resulted in Scotland becoming
"a weak link". He added "if that is the easy way
into the United Kingdom, you have a net loss of security on both
sides of the border".
What resources does Scotland have and need?
126. Professor Omand told us that the security
aim for the period after independence "should be to so arrange
matters that security on both sides of the border is not diminished".
Witnesses were in agreement that an independent Scotland could
not (for reasons of cost) and need not (given its relatively more
limited foreign policy aspirations) replicate the security and
intelligence structure that currently exists in the UK. Yet, it
would still need a significant security and intelligence infrastructure
to deal with the strategic security threats that the Deputy First
Minister told us Scotland would face, namely: cyber threat; international
terrorism; the threat from global instability and the possibility
of failed states; and serious international organised crime.
The Scottish National Party has also committed itself to creating
"a cyber security and intelligence infrastructure to deal
with new threats and protect key national economic and social
This would need to include, but would not be limited to, the North
Sea oil and gas platforms which currently provide up to £12
billion a year in revenues, and future oil fields west of Shetland
on the Atlantic frontier, as well as offshore wind and marine
energy plants, and Scotland's substantial fishing grounds.
127. According to witnesses, having the capacity
to tackle such threats would require both internal and external
intelligence capabilities. The Scottish Government would have
certain, albeit limited, existing resources at its disposal. For
instance, in forming a domestic service, it could draw upon its
existing law enforcement agencies which have experience in domestic
intelligence gathering for law enforcement purposes. However,
these agencies do not currently have any formal overseas intelligence-gathering
infrastructure in place upon which to build in the event of independence.
Instead they use UK assets, funded by the UK Government, which
would revert to the UK upon independence.
128. If Scotland became a member of NATO, it
could access some security and intelligence support in the same
way that other small NATO nations with limited capabilities do.
However, the intelligence specialists who testified before us
were clear that much more than NATO support would be needed if
Scotland was not to be left exposed in security terms. In terms
of cryptography, as Professor Omand noted, Scotland has "excellent
computer science departments" and "very advanced companies
[...] which no doubt could be harnessed" to develop Scotland's
security and intelligence cryptography. However, on the issue
of cryptography alone, creating appropriate structures within
the two year period between a 'yes' vote and independence that
is envisaged by Scottish Ministers would be enormously problematic.
Professor Omand cautioned that "it would take years to build
up the capability. I have some doubts as to whether it would be
feasible to do it to the requisite standard".
Sir Richard Mottram, former chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee,
told us that that quite apart from technical capabilities, "people
networks" were vital and "you cannot create that overnight".
He added that:
It might be that the Scottish Government could persuade
some people with significant UK Government experience to work
for it. [...] But one has to be cautious about how quickly you
can create an organisation of this kind which is very complicated
and has all these international links.
129. It would also be extremely costly. The costs
of setting up a new security and intelligence infrastructure afresh
which would command the confidence of Scotland's allies would
be, according to Mr Lidington, "enormous".
Sir Richard Mottram calculated that if the Scottish Government
chose to spend between 8 and 10 per cent of the roughly £2
billion that the UK currently spends on the security and intelligence
agencies a year (this would amount to approximately £160-200
million which would put it on par with other small states) some
form of Scottish external intelligence agency could be created.
However, he cautioned that it would have a "fairly narrow
range of functions" and would "not bear any relationship
to the scale of the network that is currently operated by SIS
and the range of information that it derives".
On cyber security alone, the UK Government has committed an additional
£650 million to its strategy between 2011 and 2015. Professor
Omand told us that "the highest standards of cyber-security
will be necessary for economic reasons. I cannot imagine a Government
in Edinburgh would want to take a different view, [which] means
you then have to have access to technical capability linked to
some serious intelligence capability".
Professor Omand concluded that overall, "it is not self-evident
to me that that goal can be met, or that it can be met at reasonable
130. Sir Richard Mottram told us that as a minimum,
Scotland would need a policy capability at the centre of the Scottish
Government, "which would not be difficult to achieve"
and "more importantly, a capacity to understand the problem
and to tackle it [
]. They would need a mini-GCHQ to both
protect their information and consider other things that go with
were clear that without appropriate infrastructure, information
exchange regimes, and suitably qualified and vetted personnel
to guarantee the security of information received from international
partners, those same states would simply not engage fully with
Scotland on foreign intelligence issues.
In addition, given the hard-headed, reciprocal basis to international
intelligence sharing, Scotland would need to be in a position
to offer something of value to its partners.
Professor Omand stated that:
[Perhaps] Washington would ask what role this new
nation is playing in the NATO enterprise. [...] the new nation
might say that its foreign policy would make it difficult to join
in certain NATO enterprises. All those things connect together.
[...] That would be the worst possible start to an independent
Scotland, and of course it could then prejudice the arrangements
for entry into NATO. I point that out to reinforce my view that
you cannot just assume good will and that everything will work.
You have to have nailed things down in advance.
131. The extent to which the Scottish Government
has up until now engaged with these issues is unclear. The Scottish
National Party has provisionally allocated £2.5 billion for
"defence and security" provision. However, it is not
clear whether this figure includes set-up costs, intelligence
gathering and dissemination, and related infrastructure, both
domestic and foreign. The Deputy First Minister did tell us that
she envisaged Scotland having an "independent domestic intelligence
machinery [...] sitting alongside our police service".
However, when we asked whether an external intelligence service
would be created to provide information to help tackle the threats
from cybercrime, international terrorism, failed states and organised
crime, Ms Sturgeon was unable to provide a response. She told
us that the Scottish Government was currently undertaking a "substantial
piece of work" examining how Scotland would address external
threats in the event of independence.
In an article for Scotland on Sunday, Baroness Meta Ramsay,
a former senior SIS officer, maintained that it is "not clear
from [the Deputy First Minister's] answer that she does realise
the magnitude of the tasks of providing Scotland with a domestic
security service, setting aside altogether the question of an
external intelligence service".
Sir Richard Mottram noted:
The interesting question would then be: is the capability
that they created capable of underpinning the vision of the Scottish
Government about Scotland's place in the world? [...] There is
a sort of paradox here. You could imagine a cheap and cheerful
system that sustained a cheap and cheerful country, with very
limited international ambition and very limited focus on the rest
of the world, but that is not really Scotland's history.
132. There was a general consensus among witnesses
and other experts that if Scotland was "not to face being
left out in the cold" and find itself at "a distinct
it would need to request some form of access to the RUK's security
and intelligence resources. The Deputy First Minister also appeared
to believe that the RUK would provide Scotland with assistance.
She argued that "it would be not just in Scotland's interests
for there to be very close intelligence sharing arrangements with
the rest of the UK. It would clearly be in the interests of the
rest of the UK for that to happen as well". Ms Sturgeon declined,
however, to "get into the specifics of how that would work
because that is dependent both on our own work and discussions
that I would want us to have with the rest of the UK".
133. Providing bilateral security and intelligence
support to Scotland could well be in the RUK's interests given
that it would continue to share the same landmass, face similar
security threats and articulate mostly complementary foreign policy
goals. Nor would such a situation be without precedent; the UK
already co-operates with the Republic of Ireland on security matters
particularly in the field of counter-terrorism. In practice, support
from the RUK could take a number of forms. It could, for instance,
involve assisting the Scottish authorities in the transitional
period following a 'yes' vote, offering advice and expertise on
Scotland's new intelligence infrastructure or, over the longer
term, loaning personnel as it has done with other states with
whom it has close relationships.
134. However, it
remains unclear how much support the RUK might be willing or indeed
able to give in the field of intelligence and security and what
impact this might have on its other foreign policy priorities,
budgets and resources. Sir Richard Mottram
told us that the RUK would take a selective approach to assistance
while Professor Chalmers noted that although there would be a
strong incentive to co-operate, it "would not be taken for
Other witnesses suggested that the extent of RUK support might
depend upon the degree to which Scotland's foreign policy diverged
from that of the RUK. If it created difficulties with the US,
for instance, Sir Richard could not "think why the [RUK]
Government would facilitate such a process and underpin it".
He added that the RUK Government would have "a very narrow
definition of what they would want to do. Where they had a direct
interest in things such as counter-terrorism, yes, they would
do something, because that was in their interests. Otherwise,
they would probably be quite awkward".
Baroness Ramsay stated that the Deputy First Minister
[seems to think] Scotland can rely on the umbrella
of GCHQ, MI6 and MI5. I believe she needs to think again. She
told the [the Foreign Affairs Committee] and obviously believed,
that there would be continued shared arrangements with the rest
of the UK regardless of Scotland's independent capability. I do
not think so and more importantly for Scotland she does not know.
135. Even if the RUK was willing to help Scotland,
there is no guarantee that it could act unless it secured the
consent of relevant international partners. Witnesses drew attention
to the example of New Zealand which in 1985 adopted a strong anti-nuclear
stance, as the Scottish Government intends to do. As a result,
US warships were no longer able to visit New Zealand and the US
cut off the putative US-Australia-New Zealand arrangements for
military co-operation, ended all intelligence relationships and
prevented the signing of a bilateral free trade agreement. According
to Professor Omand, the impasse, which held until 2011, caused
"real difficulties for the UK" in maintaining an intelligence
relationship with New Zealand. The US "played hardball"
and "in that intervening period, New Zealanders were in the
be cut out of the privileged Five Eyes intelligence sharing arrangement
(involving the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), would
not seem to be in an independent Scotland's interests. Nor would
it be in the RUK's interests to see its own security compromised
because of weaknesses in Scotland's intelligence and security
136. In the case of Scotland, the decision to
share US intelligence held by the RUK would be a decision for
the US, not the RUK and would depend on whether they felt
that they could trust the future Scottish Government's safeguard
systems with that information and whether it would be to their
It remains unclear whether this privileged access could or would
be extended to Scotland once its intelligence agencies were fully
operational. Sir Richard Mottram told us that the UK receives
information from partners like the US "on which the present
UK Government operates a wide range of its policies" because
the UK in turn gives them "things of scale and value".
He stated that "a Scottish Government, under any circumstance,
will not be capable of doing that." He added that:
You will get into a very interesting question about
the rules of the game [...] If the UK Government discovers a terrorist
threat in, hypothetically, Estonia or wherever, it passes on information,
but we do not share with Estonia loads of other information that
we have in our possession on which we draw in reaching policy
decisions. The challenge for Scotland will be that there will
always be gaps, because it will be on a different scale from the
present UK Government in relation to all of these security matters.
There is no way round that in my view.
Summarising the position Scotland could find itself
in after independence, Professor Malcolm Chalmers noted that:
[There are] other small European countries that have
much more limited capability in this area, which get by. They
get by partly by partnership with others, being friendly with
others, heeding the wishes of bigger powers with more capabilities,
and sometimes by having some degree of specialism so they have
something particular to offer. Immediately after independence,
Scotland might have very limited capability in this area, but
it might build up a particular specialism that it can offer to
the rest of the UK and say, "We can do this, but in return
we want that". [...]. That degree of interdependence in security
capabilities will constrain the ability of a Scottish Government
to pursue a radically different foreign and security policy agenda,
because that could have consequences for the willingness of the
rest of the UK to continue with it.
137. By the Scottish Government's
own assessment, in the event of independence Scotland would need
both internal and external security and intelligence capabilities
to deal with the many diverse potential threats it believes it
could face. Yet Scotland has no external intelligence infrastructure
to build upon. With just over a year to go before the referendum
takes place, it is not at all clear that the Scottish Government
has a costed and coherent vision of the security and intelligence
infrastructure it needs to put in place to protect Scottish citizens,
businesses and economic interests.
Much more than just
NATO support would be needed. Creating a Scottish domestic intelligence
service would be possible, but establishing an external service
from a standing start would be expensive, and neither could be
created overnight. It would take years before the necessary systems
were in place to enable allies to trust Scotland with information
relevant to its needs. In the meantime,
there appears to be a working presumption on the part of the Scottish
Government that the RUK would fill the intelligence shortfall
that would emerge at least in the short term, but possibly over
a longer time frame too. The basis for this position is not at
all clear. Scotland would undoubtedly remain of strategic interest
to the RUK and in the vast majority of cases it is likely that
it would be in the RUK's interests to assist Scotland. However,
it is crucial that Scots are aware that the RUK's intelligence
and security help would be discretionary, based on self-interest
and could not be taken for granted, particularly where the RUK
faced competing interests or priorities.
Continuity and constraints
138. Notwithstanding some of key differences
and areas of divergence outlined above, the evidence we received
suggested that in many respects Scotland's foreign policy would
be similar to that currently pursued by the UK through the FCO,
not least because Scotland's ability unilaterally to shape its
goals is constrained by the same external forces that apply to
and restrict the UK's choices. Scotland's strategic priorities,
including economic advancement, protection of its citizens and
assets and its desire to act as a good global citizen, map almost
exactly onto the Foreign Secretary's policies for the UK, which
are to safeguard British national security; build Britain's prosperity
by increasing exports and investment, opening markets, ensuring
access to resources and promoting sustainable global growth; and
support British nationals around the world through modern and
efficient global services.
Scotland's foreign policy may differ in style but, based on current
information, it will in many respects ape the UK, albeit on a
smaller scale. With co-operation envisaged by the Scottish Government
on a range of foreign policy and bilateral issues and the likelihood
of some degree of Scottish dependency on the RUK for security
and intelligence support, it is difficult not to conclude that
the notion of a truly independent Scottish foreign policy is in
many ways a misnomer.
139. Even on the greatest potential area of divergence,
that of nuclear weapons, Scotland's ability to forge its own foreign
policy path would arguably also be constrained by the RUK. While
witnesses did not doubt the Scottish Government's commitment to
delivering this key political pledge, they did allude to the international
factors which may constrain the Scottish Government's ability
to realise their commitment. Professor Chalmers told us that in
spite of the Scottish Government's commitment to remove nuclear
weapons from Scottish soil as swiftly as possible, it could be
"some time in the 2030s, but possibly later"
before this took place. Professor Walker suggested that "my
view is that it would happen in conjunction with the UK giving
up nuclear weapons, if it happens at all. The key decision is
down [...] in London, not up in Edinburgh".
140. This leads us to conclude that,
with the information currently available to us, Scotland's foreign
policy would in many key, practical respects, be very similar
to that currently pursued by the UK but without access to the
many benefits that derive from being part of it.
184 Q 158 Back
Q 158 Back
Q 158 [Dr Kaarbo] Back
Q 224 Back
Q 224 Back
'Your Scotland, Your Future', Scottish National Party,
December 2011, p29 Back
Corrected transcript of evidence taken before the Defence Committee,
3 July 2012, HC 483-i, Q 105 [Professor Malcolm Chalmers] Back
Q 291 Back
Q 290 Back
Q 320 Back
Q 357 Back
Ev 75 Back
Ev 76 Back
Q 359 Back
Q 358 Back
Ev 90 Back
Engel and Parkes, "Accommodating an independent Scotland" Back
The Darien scheme of 1698 was an attempt by the Kingdom of Scotland
to establish a Scots trading colony in Panama. It ended in tragedy
after the plan foundered. Many hundreds of Scots died from disease
and starvation and Scotland found itself facing bankruptcy. Back
Professor Malcolm Chalmers, "End of an Auld Sang", Royal
United Services Institute, April 2012 Back
Q 97 Back
Q 158 Back
Q 140; Q191 [ Lord Jay] Back
Ev 80; Q324 Back
Q 46 [Professor Whitman] Back
Q 53 Back
Q 293 Back
Scottish Affairs Committee, The Referendum on Separation for
Scotland: Terminating Trident-Days or Decades?, HC 676, Session
2012-13, 25 October 2012 Back
Ev 81 [BASIC] Back
Ev 86 [Professor Chalmers] Back
Ev 84 [BASIC]; Ev 86 [Professor Chalmers] Back
Q 122 Back
Ev 81 [BASIC] Back
Q 119 Back
Q 144 Back
Q 122 [Professor Walker] Back
Ev 83 Back
Ev 85 Back
Q 144 Back
Ev 85 [Professor Chalmers]; Q 120 Back
'Global Connections Survey 2011', Scottish Government,
23 January 2013, www.scotland.gov.uk Back
Q 141; Q 98 Back
The Single Intelligence Account provided £2 billion in funding
for 2010-11. This increased to £2.1 billion in 2011-12 and
continues at that level through to 2014-15. See HM Treasury, Government
Spending Review 2010, Cm 7942, page 10-11, Tables 1 and 2. Back
Q 154 Back
Q 154 Back
Q 140 Back
Q 309 Back
Scottish National Party Conference Resolution, 26 October 2012 Back
Severin Carrell, The Guardian, 1 March 2012 Back
Q 132 Back
Q 132 Back
Q 342 Back
Q 150 Back
Q 131 Back
Q 140 Back
Q 130 Back
Q 130 Back
Q 196 [Lord Jay] Back
Q 135 Back
Q 310 Back
Q 313 Back
Meta Ramsay, "Security Service can take nothing for granted",
Scotland on Sunday, 17 February 2013 Back
Q 153 Back
Stewart Crawford and Richard Marsh, "A' the Blue Bonnets.
Defending an Independent Scotland", RUSI Whitehall Report,
October 2012, p 22 Back
Q 315 Back
Q 153 Back
Q 94 Back
Q 151 Back
Scotland on Sunday, 17 February 2013 Back
Q 135 Back
Stewart Crawford and Richard Marsh, A' the Blue Bonnets. Defending
an Independent Scotland, RUSI Whitehall Report 3-12, October 2012,
p 22 Back
Q 343 [David Lidington] Back
Q 135 Back
Uncorrected transcript of evidence taken before the Scottish Affairs
Committee on 23 January 2013, to be published as HC 139-xvi, Q
Foreign Affairs Committee, The Role of the FCO in UK Government,
p 29 Back
Q 126 Back
Q 126 Back