Senior diplomat says independent Scotland would be welcomed internationally

By staff writers
21 Feb 2013

A former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations says an independent Scotland could establish itself with "relative ease" in international organisations, including the European Union and the UN itself.

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, an experienced diplomat and former foreign minister in Gordon Brown’s Labour Government, told BBC Scotland yesterday (21 February 2013): "People are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill for political reasons in some of how this is reported. After all, the UN started with 48 states. It now, I think, has 192 or 193 last time I looked, and so it’s very used to bringing in states."

On an independent Scotland’s continuing membership of the European Union, which has been a matter of contention in the Scottish referendum campaign so far, Lord Malloch-Brown also took an unflustered view.

He declared: "I don’t think they [the EU] would have any particular reason to want to make things tricky for Scotland. I think the fact that Scotland would likely remain very pro-European would mean they’d be anxious to embrace Scotland and bring it in."

"If they were going to make the issue embarrassing for anybody it’s more likely they’d make it embarrassing for London, with whom they have bigger problems," he added.

Lord Malloch-Brown said that by the time independence happened, assuming a 'Yes' vote in the 2014 referendum, the UK would be "winding up for its own referendum on EU membership. It is quite possible that this will have made relations between London and Brussels and the other European capitals pretty ragged."

Blair Jenkins, the chief executive of Yes Scotland, commented: "Here we have yet another very senior and experienced diplomatic authority expressing the very clear view that an independent Scotland will be made very welcome in the EU as well as other international organisations.

"Lord Malloch-Brown is also underlining what we have always said – that an independent Scotland will take up its rightful place in the international community and play a key role within it," he said.

In related news, a senior academic Dr John Kay, a business micro-economist and former director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, also said yesterday that he did not think either independence or staying part of the UK would make a major economic difference to the person in the street in the immediate aftermath, and that the choice was really a political one.

Those who support Scottish self-government believe that a green-oriented, non-nuclear and pro-social justice Scotland can begin to chart a different direction to UK austerity economics in the longer run.

Nobel prize-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz said earlier this month that only independence would give Scotland the power to address the growing gap between equality and growth, given the Westminster system's essential commitment to neoliberalism.

Also last night, students at the University of Glasgow voted 'No' to Scottish independence in what is likely to be a series of test referenda at tertiary institutions across the country. However, the great majority of students did not vote.

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie, who does not think Scotland has the capability to fully govern its own affairs, welcomed the result.

Blair Jenkins of the 'Yes' campaign said that the vote illustrated how important the 'don't knows' are going to be over the next year-and-a-half in the run-up to the actual referendum vote.

* More on the Scottish independence debate from Ekklesia: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/scottishindependence

* Yes Scotland: http://www.yesscotland.net/

[Ekk/3]

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