The wages of Scottish independence – Nationality

The Scottish Numpty Party (SNP) has a rather strange idea of independence. It wants an “independent” Scotland to  use either the pound or the Euro; to be  within that prime dissolver  of national sovereignty the EU; to share defence forces with the remainder of the UK  (henceforth the UK); have an open border for people, goods and services with England and  retain the Queen as head of state. Most  startlingly,  the SNP wishes to retain  British
nationality for Scots as well as granting them Scottish nationality. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/6163149/Alex-Salmond-promises-British-citizenship-if-Scotland-becomes-separate-nation.html).

The SNP leader Alex Salmond  has the quaint idea that it would be a formality that  the Scots would have both Scots and British nationality. This is a very rash assumption.
British nationality might not continue once Scotland was gone. The UK might opt for a confederal system  with different nationalities for England,  Wales and Northern Ireland.
England might decide to go for independence herself. More broadly, a Westminster Parliament dominated by English MPs and concentrated on English interests might refuse to share a nationality with an independent Scotland on nationalist grounds.

Any of these are real  possibilities. If Scotland  became independent that  England’s already great predominance within  the UK would become even greater with over 90% of the UK’s population and much more of its wealth.  That would make the  UK government  give more attention to English interests.  This natural tendency would be enhanced by the loss of the 59 House of Commons seats which are returned by Scotland. That would make a future Labour or even a Labour/LibDem government  improbable because  Labour and the LibDems hold all but one of the 59 seats. The  likelihood would be  a Tory Government at Westminster for the quite some time after Scottish independence.

But what if a  Westminster Government did agree to allow British nationality to be shared between an independent Scotland and the UK?  The problems with this are manifest. Dual
nationality starts from the incorrigibly dubious  position of a man not being able to serve
more than one master.   For many with dual nationality that may not be of any great practical importance,   because often the two nationalities relate to countries which are geographically  far enough  apart for  it to be unlikely that the two would clash directly, say Britain and India,   or the two nationalities are derived  from countries with a good deal  of shared history and culture such as Britain and Canada which would make open conflict unlikely.

But that is not the case with Scotland and the UK,  because the two prospective independent entities are intimately linked  geographically, economically and demographically.  This intimacy  would provide  great opportunities for conflict, especially if the Scottish economy turned turtle and the Westminster Government refused to either bail them out financially or allow mass Scottish migration to the UK.  Or suppose Scotland was in the EU and the rest of the UK was not or vice versa. The country within the EU would have to apply EU rules on the  movement of peoples, goods and so on against the country outside the EU.

The greatest  reason why British nationality should not be shared by an independent Scotland and  the UK is that granting nationality means granting equal rights. That would give a Scots national  holding British nationality as well  all the rights and privileges of  nationals of the UK.  These  would include the right for those with Scottish nationality  to freely enter, reside and work in the UK and draw upon all the taxpayer funded benefits offered by the UK to its nationals. It is true that UK nationals would be able to go Scotland and enjoy the same rights, but it is improbable that an independent Scotland would be
able to match the benefits offered by the UK taxpayer because of the precarious nature of the Scottish economy which is very heavily dependent on public service jobs (over 60% of Scottish GDP – https://englandcalling.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/the-wages-of-scottish-independence-public-sector-employment/) Scotland  also  has a very narrow jobs base in what there is of  private enterprise, being dramatically  dependent on the oil and gas industry (https://englandcalling.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/the-truth-about-uk-oil-and-gas/). This, together with the small size of the Scottish population (around 5 million), would mean that  the opportunities for employment for UK nationals in Scotland  would be far fewer than those available to Scottish nationals in the UK.  The rational expectation would be for many more Scottish nationals to come to the UK (in practice England) than UK nationals moving to Scotland.

That imbalance would be bad enough,  but if British nationality came automatically with Scottish nationality, there would be nothing to stop Scotland naturalising any number of foreign nationals who would then have British nationality. They could then come to the UK legally. The UK would have no means of controlling what could be a torrent of newly created immigrant Scots.   That is the best of all reasons  for denying British nationality to Scots in an independent Scotland.

EU membership complicates matters. If both an independent Scotland and the UK were EU members, free movement between the two states would be legally enforceable.  The same would apply if one of the two left the EU but obtained the same status as Norway.
This is because Norway and the other states with a special relationship with the EU such as Switzerland, have to sign up to the “four freedoms” of the EU : freedom of movement within the EU of goods, capital, services, and people  http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/if-we-leave-the-eu-we-mustnt-be-another-norway/). This would allow an independent Scotland to create any number of naturalised Scots from new immigrants from outside the EU.  They would then be able to claim British citizenship if it was granted to Scots. However, even without making new arrivals in Scotland Scottish nationals, with both Scotland and the UK having EU membership Scotland could act as a conduit for immigrants from outside the EU to come to the UK where on past form most would go to England.

It might be thought that an independent Scotland would be taking a risk if they encouraged large numbers of foreigners to come to Scotland and then naturalised them. They might well be, but the present cast of mind of the Scottish political in Scotland is to be ultra politically correct and to encourage ever greater ethnic diversity and the SNP has been trying to persuade the Westminster Government to give the devolved Parliament power to make their own immigration laws.   Moreover, there would be nothing to stop a Scottish Government effectively becoming a people trafficker for profit along the lines of “ We give you Scottish nationality or at least let you come into Scotland for a fee, on the understanding that you go to England. “  This might be done out of anti-English malice or simply to make money.  Even if the thing was not done so baldly, it is a fair bet that most would go to England because of the greater benefits and job opportunities.

If  Scottish nationality carried full  British nationality and Scotland made a habit of  naturalising large numbers of immigrants, the naturalised immigrants would have a right to come to any part of the UK and the UK government would have no legal control over their coming or their access to UK jobs and benefits.    However, legal control and what large nations may do within the EU are two separate matters.  As we have seen recently, border controls were recently imposed unilaterally by some members of the Schengen Area which allows free movement across borders  between the members ((http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/12/europe-to-end-passport-free-travel).  The UK would need to do something similar if there were a flood of immigrants via Scotland. The precedent is with the Republic of Ireland staying out of the Schengen
area  at the behest of the UK to prevent a migration back door into Britain.

It is possible that a new form of  British nationality could be created for Scots akin to that of, for example,  a British overseas citizen,   which did not give them the same privileges as enjoyed by British nationals from the UK.  However, this would have to be so restrictive
it would be of little if any practical use to them.

It is also uncertain as to how foreign countries would respond to someone claiming British nationality when the nationality would encompass two separate  independent states.  Having dual nationality of two different independent states is one thing; saying that two  independent states share a nationality quite another. This would be a unique arrangement which  would have considerable ramifications for the movement of  people, goods and services across national boundaries.

Imagine someone from an independent Scotland or the UK  travelling to a third  country.  Would they enter on a British passport?  If so, to which country would they belong?  Those from the  UK  might plausibly say they were British nationals because they represented the that part of the UK which had not sought independence from the original  UK.  A national from an  independent Scotland could not claim British nationality in that way because they had voted to leave the UK.  Where would that leave the Scottish national? Presumably with the need for a Scottish passport.  If so, what would having British nationality mean for a Scot?

The question of legally enforceable nationality  is vital when it comes to people crossing borders , because only when the legal nationality of a person  can be established is it reasonable to allow tem entry to a country because otherwise it may not be able to send them out of the country.  What would a British passport mean in terms of sending someone back?  To Scotland? To the UK?

A similar difficulty  applies to goods and services because it is necessary to know which legal jurisdiction the supplier comes under for various reasons, for example, if legal action arises or there is a question of whether protectionist measures such as tariffs or quotas  apply.  There might be little difficulty if  from the UK described themselves as British
but what if a Scottish national did? Under which legal jurisdiction would they come? If either an independent Scotland or  the  UK was not a member of the EU or not signed up to the WTO agreements, how would the legal status of goods or services be determined? At the least it would provide rich pickings for lawyers.

There is also the attitude of other countries towards dual nationals. Some encourage it,  some tolerate it and some ban it outright  http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/britishcitizenship/dualnationality/).  Of those who discourage it the most common  thing is for the automatic loss of citizenship when another citizenship is acquired voluntarily (for example  China, Czech Republic, Denmark, India, Japan ).  It is conceivable the novel idea of a nationality shared by two independent states might be something they would not swallow. This might  mean that Scots could not travel to some countries  on a British passport  even if they had one as the receiving country might not recognise the national status of British when applied to a Scot. It could also result in the British passport not being recognised for UK nationals ,because it would be a little much to expect immigration controls all over the world to understand the intricacies  f  the new and unique situation between Scotland and the UK.  Indeed, if such a joint
nationality was brought into force, it might in time force the UK to seek another national denomination or have separate legal nationalities for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. An arrangement along these lines existed in Czechoslovakia before the state split with separate nationalities for Czechs and Slovaks.

There is also the possibility that the EU might object to such an arrangement, especially if either Scotland or the UK were not in the EU.  On the Eurocrats longer-term agenda is the wish to create a European (or EU) citizenship to override national attachments. An EU member with a nationality shared with a non-EU member would be an irksome anomaly.

The simplest thing would be for an independent Scotland to not have any nationality other than Scottish and for the remainder of the UK to continue for the present with the British nationality. Of course, the SNP leader Alex Salmond does not want that because in his heart of hearts he knows two things: the majority of Scots do not want  full blown independence and if Scotland were to become truly independent with proportionate, that is , fair  share of the present UK’s liabilities, it would be reduced to penury. What Salmond actually wants is to continue to have a heavily subsidised ride on England’s back whilst pretending Scotland is independent.

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4 Responses to The wages of Scottish independence – Nationality

  1. Pingback: The wages of Scottish independence – immigration | England calling

  2. Will says:

    This article as well as a few others regarding the possibility of Scottish Independence and the possible ramifications of such a move are absolutely ridiculous and, quite honestly, nothing more than scare mongering tactics. While you have provided numerous links and references throughout, there are no real accurate facts or truths being presented. Mights, maybes, and possibilities are all that are present. Such flaws only serve as propoganda and don’t look to promote any real narrative or discussion.

    After reading a couple of your posts, it is quite clear you are writing from a very strong pro-english bias. You’ve presented no alternative views to those of your own, or have looked to disprove or argue others opinions, stances, or beliefs regarding the matters of independence.

    I was born and raised in Canada to Scottish parents, and while many may think I have no right to challenge certain views or take interest in what is taking place in the “UK” (quite simply England), Scotland is very much a part of who I am. I believe, in some respects, I, myself, am a part of Scotland through the numerous contributions my mom,dad, grandparents, and the countless generations before them, have made to Scotland and what it is today. I will say this, Indepdence will not be an easy process, and likely, there will be struggle, I’m not arguing with you there, but when it comes to Liberty and self-determination, such virtues should never be sacrificed over concerns of money and finances.

    I don’t understand this attitude that some English, Welsh, and Northern Irelanders have when it comes to Scotland leaving the union. Being Canadian, I am all too familiar with talk of Quebec wishing to separate, and while I truly believe both the French and British (quite simply english) backgrounds of Canada make for a truly great nation, I ultimately wouldn’t look to stand in the way or interfere with the Quebecors own beliefs or desires. The same respect should be shown to Scotland and the Independence movement. If Independence is wanted, and clearly supported through the referendum, it should be granted.

    Lastly, I’d just like to state that ultimately, the United Kingdom will fall, its only a question of when. Unions between nations simply don’t work. If a union was proposed between Canada, the United States, and Mexico, it would never pass. Even if it was simply proposed between Canada and the United States, again it would not form. With a population of 330 million compared to that of 30 million, no real equality would ever be established. Interests would always reflect those of the United States, and when it would come to representation on an international stage, Canadians would always feel as though their views, overall identity, and voice, was never being heard or listened to. The same applies to the United Kingdom as the majority, a vast majority, of the population is present in England. There is no true United Kingdom or Britain for that matter as, in all honesty, it is simply England, and always has been. The flag itself, has the St. Georges cross front and centre, with the St. Andrews cross in the background. There is no real representation of N. Ireland or Wales in the flag, and when it comes to Scotland, N. Ireland, and Wales, representation in general (whether it be society or political issues) is non-existant. Sure MP’s are present in Westminster, but ultimately, the majority of decisions being made, are made soley by the English alone. in all honestly I don’t quite understand your stance and many other “unionists” based stances, when in fact, the United Kingdom is nothing more than a fallacy. It is simply England, always has been, always will be until, one of the three nations listed above, look towards Independence.

    Independence is not simply and Anti-English sentiment, nor is it an anti-UK sentiment. It is the sole desire to be a sovereign nation, one that is in control of the present, and most importantly, the future. To deny any nation of such, is truly a shame.

  3. Andrew says:

    I agree in principle with the author.

    Firstly, one must hope we are never in this position but secondly if we were, this issue is extremely complicated. Permanent dual citizenship just wouldn’t work. It may however be necessary for a temporary basis.

    Being born in Scotland but having lived my entire adult life in England, I’d be extremely concerned about a Scottish passport being forced upon me (and moreso having difficulty retaining my British / English citizenship simply due to where I was born).

    Even if that were somehow sorted out, I Detest the prospect of immigration queues at Gretna every time I want to take my son to visit his grandparents.

  4. Andrew says:

    I must add to the Canadian above that

    A) Wales is not represented in the flag because it was conquered by England before the creation of great Britain and indeed the UK. Northern Ireland is represented by St Patricks Cross. Have a closer look!

    B) I respect your interest in our country but it is very easy to comment from thousands of miles away when the consequences of this proposed independence will have absolutely no effect on you, save for perhaps an increased level of pride when talking about your ancestral homeland.

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