An independent Scotland will lose its EU membership if it keeps the pound says UK Treasury Minister Danny Alexander.
His reasoning is that the UK negotiated a special Euro opt-out that doesn’t apply to new EU members, all of whom are required to join the single currency.
The Pound and EU membership have been the two big uncertainties of the independence debate with the “Yes” camp consistently under fire from both Westminster and Brussels.
Earlier this year, the former EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warned that Scotland would find it “extremely difficult” to re-join the European club if it left the UK. His successor has maintained this line.
But these are unchartered waters and nobody – even Treasury ministers or Commission presidents – can predict with certainty what will happen.
Barosso’s tone is dictated by other big member states who are fearful that Scottish independence will give momentum to other secessionist movements. However, there’s a flaw in his logic that Scotland automatically leaves the EU upon leaving the UK.
The independence referendum is a process provided under UK legislation. The UK is a member state. The UK Government could have decided that Scottish independence required a referendum across the whole nation, but it determined that Scotland alone could make the decision.
If – through this UK process – the UK itself ceases to exist as previously known, then surely any question over membership applies not just to Scotland, but to England, Wales and Northern Ireland? And if the EU gives England, Wales and Northern Ireland a free pass to remain in the club, why not Scotland?
As for the Pound issue – it is secondary to the argument above. So if the EU accepts that Scotland can remain – like the remnant UK – then surely it cannot force the Euro on Edinburgh if the same does not apply to London.
The bottom line is that none of these issues have been tackled before. There are no clear cut rules and all sides should be honest about that.