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.