A strong national identity, its own parliament and a solid tourism industry… An independent Scotland has plenty going for it, but would it be richer split off from the UK?
The British economy today is worth 2,443 billion euros (or 2.443 if you want to put it in trillions), while that of Scotland is valued at 193 billion euros.
The market that Britain represents (Britain taken to mean England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland combined) and Scotland on its own is also a different kettle of fish.
Big market access is something Galloway Smokehouse owner Allan Watson would be sore to lose.
Watson said: “If I’m now dealing with just the Scottish population of five-six million, compared with the English [he meant British] population of 60-odd million, then I’m on a tenth of my customer base. I couldn’t survive in this form on a tenth of my customer base.”
The currency for an independent Scotland is another bone of contention. Scotland has been fabricating its own pounds since 1695, before union with England in 1707. Could one and the same pound sterling continue ‘long to reign over us’? Jolly right it would, says independence leader First Minister Alex Salmond. London, on the other hand, says monetary union with an independent Scotland ‘my foot’.
But some experts think ‘we can work it out’.
Duncan Ross, an academic at the University of Glasgow, said: “My honest view on that is that no currency union makes things difficult for an independent Scotland, but I don’t expect that to happen, I think. And if it were to happen, then there are other options around an independent currency and so forth.”
Dispositions for natural resources, say North Sea oil, would have to be renegotiated.
The Centre for Scottish Public Policy’s Richard Kerley doesn’t see that as a major stumbling block.
He said: “Well, the slogan of the 1970s and 1980s used to be ‘It’s Scotland’s oil’, and clearly there is international precedent for talking about where the sea bed is divided in different ways. It’s not as simple as that. There’ll be a negotiation, there’ll be a discussion and there’ll be a settlement between an independent Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.”
A sovereign Scotland would claim a part of the UK’s reserves of gold bullion. That pile’s worth 9.84 billion euros; it’s the world’s 18th-richest stash.
Scotland on its own would also shoulder a share of the UK’s 1,600 billion-euro sovereign debt.
Quite some calculation would be involved in these matters.
Not to mention what would become of the flag!