Scottish Brexit
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One of the lines that divided Britain’s referendum on June 23rd, was the border between Scotland and England. On the Northern side of that border, there was overwhelming support for the ‘stay’ camp. The opposite was true on the southern side of the border. Taking into account that Scotland voted to stay in the UK by a margin of just 5% about two years ago, will the Brexit vote change the minds of Scotts in favor of independence now? Perhaps, Brexit managed to tip the scales in favor of Scottish independence, but a vote to quit the UK could be much more illogical than the way Brexit is perceived.

The first fact that voters must face is that an independent Scotland will not necessarily get membership in the EU. Quite on the contrary, Scotland’s EU accession negotiations could be quickly undermined by Spain and other countries trying to quell regional separatist movements of their own. But EU accession troubles are just the tip of the iceberg.

An independent Scotland would be highly dependent on Northern Sea oil. The price of oil seems poised to remain at low levels for a prolonged period of time, which would add to the woes of an independent Scotland. Then there is the issue of currency. Without a clear path of accession to the EU, it would either have to issue its own currency or it will have to plead for the UK to let it keep on using the pound after seceding.

Given the realities of low oil prices and the role that the oil industry plays in the Scottish economy, issuing its own currency is a perilous road. This new currency will immediately become a petro-currency, bringing in a high measure of volatility, and possibly uncontrollable inflation. Even if Scotland would be able to become a member of the EU, the adoption of the Euro would not be as desirable for a country that has enjoyed the benefits of staying within the EU but outside of the monetary union for so long.

Using the British Pound is not realistic, since it defeats the notion of independence on one hand, but on the other depends on unlikely British acquiescence. Britain will likely punish Scotland for seceding, by preventing Scottish use of the Sterling. Scottish woes would not end there should it choose to be independent. Many Scotts work in other places within the UK. The likelihood of Scotts losing their right to work elsewhere in the UK should the independence movement win, is quite high. This would constitute yet another tool which Britain could use to punish Scottish independence.

The final nail in the argument for Scottish independence, from an economic perspective, has to do with the relative advantages that the UK would have following Scottish independence. The British Pound would likely take another hit should a future independence referendum succeed. This would make Britain even more competitive in terms of exports and attraction of tourism. In comparison with Scotland, the rest of Britain would have a comparative advantage in so many fields, that a weaker British pound could sink the Scottish economy even lower. Therefore there is no logic behind Scottish independence insofar as the economy is concerned.

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