Brexit process compared to steps required for Scottish independence

The Brexit process and steps needed to be taken for Scotland to become an independent country have been compared in a new report.

The Scottish Centre on European Relations (SCER) study compares the UK leaving the EU with a deal which includes an indefinite customs union, with Scotland leaving the UK and being in, or acceding to, the EU.

It considers nine key areas; Sovereignty, democracy, divorce (concerning the splitting of assets and liabilities), political divisions, future relationships, relationships with the EU, new laws and regulatory bodies, relationships with the rest of the world, and borders/economic impacts.

The report suggests there would be greater certainty for a future independent Scotland-UK relationship, due in part to the EU having agreed arrangements by that time with Britain over its relationship – assuming an independent Scotland would be a member of the EU.

It also indicates lessons could be learned from the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 and the EU vote in 2016 in relation to how the process is conducted, as well as learning from how UK-EU law is either adopted or changed through Brexit.

The question of a border between Scotland and England is raised in the report as potentially causing frictions, however it indicates this could be better understood when the UK’s relationship with the EU is made clear.

The report states the untangling and splitting of shared liabilities could prove more difficult than the UK’s split from the EU.

It said: “Shared assets and liabilities and how to split them up would probably be a much tougher negotiation issue in the case of independence than for Brexit – not least the question of North Sea oil and gas, debt, defence assets, the siting of Trident on the Clyde, pensions, reciprocal rights to access public services and so on.

“Some might, eventually, be resolved on a per capita split basis but the talks would be difficult. And the still debated issue of whether an independent Scotland would continue to use the pound – for which there is no comparison in the Brexit talks – would potentially intrude Brexit.”

Dr Kirsty Hughes, SCER director, said: “There are, unsurprisingly, similarities and differences between the Brexit process and a likely future independence process. But overall the two are more different than similar.

“This is not surprising given that the UK is a sovereign state (whether in or outside the EU) while Scotland today is not a state but would become one on independence.

“If an independent Scotland were in the European Union, there would be more clarity over its future position and over a chunk of its future relationship with the UK, than the UK has in terms of its future relationship with the EU.”

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