Hague warns Scots of EU exit on independence

17th January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague on Friday warned Scots that independence would leave them stuck outside the EU and losing influence on the world stage.

Hague said Scotland could be forced to join the euro currency and the European Union's Schengen open borders agreement.

He was speaking in Glasgow to launch the British government's analysis paper on EU and international issues if Scotland votes to go it alone in the September 18 referendum.

"Scotland leaving the United Kingdom would diminish us all," Hague told an audience at The Lighthouse, Scotland's Centre for Design and Architecture.

"The advantages of Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom are indisputable in foreign policy as they are in every other area of our national life.

"A Scotland outside the UK would find itself less connected in an increasingly networked world, less able to advance its interests in an ever more competitive global economy and less able to influence decisions in a shifting international order."

The analysis paper said that as a new state, an independent Scotland would have to apply for membership of international organisations.

It said that would be straightforward in some cases but "would not" with the EU.

It cannot be assumed that an independent Scotland would have the same EU opt-outs and rebates as Britain does, it said.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council president Herman Van Rompuy have both indicated that Scotland would have to reapply for EU membership, Hague warned.

"There are pronounced question marks over an independent Scotland's membership of the EU," said Hague, who is from Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party.

"No-one knows for certain how long it would take for an independent Scotland to become an EU member."

And while pro-independence Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond wants to retain Britain's pound sterling currency rather than adopt the euro, "people in Scotland cannot be sure it would have the political capital to resist the pressure to join", he said.

Among the four main parties in Scotland, Salmond's Scottish National Party is campaigning for a "yes" vote to independence, while the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are in the "no" camp.

© 2014 AFP

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