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.