Foreign policy considerations for the UK and Scotland in the event of Scotland becoming an independent country - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents

5  Concluding remarks and observations

141.  The issue of Scottish independence is one that rightly excites passions in people of all political persuasions. As we noted in our introduction, we were pleased that the Scottish Government agreed to engage with our inquiry and to assist us in our deliberations, with a view to helping us better understand more about what foreign policy the RUK's nearest new neighbour would follow in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum on independence to be held in September 2014.

142.  Over the course of our inquiry it became evident that little over a year before the referendum, much detail and clarity on key aspects of a future Scottish foreign policy remains absent. For instance, the Scottish Government has not produced estimates for the costs involved in setting up a Scottish overseas diplomatic presence or detailed how many embassies it would seek to have and in what countries. On the crucial issue of security and intelligence provision, there is a lack of information about the infrastructure that would be put in place and how start up costs might be funded.

143.  Much more needs to be done to articulate Scotland's future foreign policy as well as the risks involved, particularly when it comes to security and intelligence provision, and more generally, what Scotland could realistically expect from the RUK in terms of co-operation on a wide range of issues.

144.   We also have concerns about the extent to which seemingly unfounded assertions and what are essentially initial negotiating positions are being presented as incontrovertible facts and conclusions. For instance, on the specific issues of state succession, opt-outs to the EU Treaties and whether EU Treaty change would be required to facilitate Scotland's EU membership, we are concerned that the Scottish Government is strenuously advocating legal positions without the benefit of official legal advice from its law officers. Indeed, we are perplexed that legal advice has not been sought at all on these issues.

145.  A number of policies also seem to be underpinned by a belief that where problems emerge, goodwill for Scotland will trump difficulties. However, this will not always be the case. There is a pressing need for more clarity and more candour about what Scots would lose and what the Scottish Government could realistically deliver in foreign policy terms with the resources available to it. None of what we have concluded should be construed as an anti-independence viewpoint. As the Edinburgh Agreement makes clear, Scots will hold their destiny in their own hands in September 2014. It is Scotland's decision to make, no one else's. The Scottish people do, however, have a right to have the full facts, not just aspirational policies, at their disposal before they make that decision. So far these facts have not been presented by the Scottish Government.

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Prepared 1 May 2013