06 June 2013 - 08 June 2013

The future of Scotland: international implications and comparisons

Chair: Sir Emyr Jones Parry GCMG

As the sun shone on Ditchley, for once this summer, we stayed inside to thrash out the international implications of a Scottish vote for independence in the September 2014 referendum.  We would have liked more Scottish nationalist voices around the table, but a diverse group, including independence supporters from regions in other countries, ensured a lively debate. It was conducted in a courteous and democratic spirit throughout, helped by strong (Welsh!) chairmanship.

We thought that Scotland would, as the non-successor state, have to apply for membership of international organisations and negotiate adherence to international treaties. Nearly all of this would be uncontentious, not least since Scottish independence would have been the result of a democratic process, agreed with the UK government, but it could still be complex and time-consuming. Nevertheless there were issues which would be difficult to manage.

The most significant could be the future currency. Scotland could no doubt use sterling, as the SNP had said they wanted to do, but a currency union was unlikely to be agreed by London, which would leave Scotland with little or no say over important aspects of economic policy. It was important to be clear about this in the referendum campaign.

Membership of the EU could also take some negotiating. In the end no member state was likely to want to block Scotland, even Spain, despite fears over setting a precedent for Catalonia and the Basque country. The issues of euro and Schengen membership should be able to be finessed in negotiation, though if Scotland tried to press for other opt-outs or a budget rebate, she would be likely to meet significant resistance. But the time available to negotiate between the referendum and the planned 2016 timing for Scottish independence looked unrealistically short, given the need for treaty change and ratification. We wondered whether independence could not be delayed until after the Scottish elections of the same year, which might also make handling the negotiations politically easier?

NATO membership should be easier to negotiate in principle, but deeply-held anti-nuclear views in Scotland could create problems, not just for the basing of the current UK Trident nuclear deterrent, but also for example over accepting the NATO nuclear umbrella, NATO’s Strategic Concept, and visits by US ships to Scottish ports. Scotland’s aim to spend less than 2% of GDP on defence was an issue in theory but not so much in practice. How much real defence capacity would Scotland want/need? That was a political decision, but the start-up costs would certainly be significant.

Scotland’s future foreign policy was hard to predict at this stage, but she would want good relations with the rest of the UK (rUK), Ireland and the Nordic countries, as a first priority, and to be a good global citizen in general. Thereafter trade and investment relations with the big emerging economies would no doubt be a priority too. Would she be likely to vote with the rUK in the EU and elsewhere? Views differed.  Scotland would need an overseas network, and some intelligence capability, both of which also involved extra costs. The close UK-US intelligence relationship would probably not be available to Scotland, at least initially.

An independent Scotland would have a major effect on the other countries of the present UK.  English nationalism might rise, while people in both Wales and Northern Ireland would want to reconsider their positions. Ireland was also concerned about the possible impact, though neutral in principle. The rUK’s prestige and influence in the world would probably suffer, at least in perception terms. Would there be a contagion effect elsewhere in the EU, and more widely? We thought there would be, inevitably, though it was hard to say how this would play out. Certainly those supporting independence in places like Catalonia, the Basque country and Quebec would be likely to see Scotland and its peaceful self-determination process as an example to follow.

It was hard to say whether separatism was a rising force in the world overall. But there was certainly no sign of it going away, and cultural, economic and political forces in different contexts could combine to give it force. Although states were losing power downwards and upwards in general, only states had the voice at the big tables which some nations craved. No alternative, to give a voice to regions, had yet been devised.

Overall no show-stoppers for Scottish independence emerged from our discussions, though it was not clear either that Scotland or the rest of the world would gain much from it in terms of international policy. The electoral calendar in the UK is meanwhile a significant complicating factor. One final thought was that neither the rest of the UK nor the international community as a whole seemed yet to have given enough thought to the implications of Scottish independence. It would be irresponsible to assume that the polls showing a majority against independence, as they stood at the time of the conference, would remain as they were. Moreover the 2014 referendum would not necessarily settle the debate once and for all, especially if the UK voted to leave the EU at some time in the future.

Scotland’s international position after independence

The majority view, by some distance, was that the rest of the UK (rUK – though no-one liked the abbreviation) would be seen internationally as the successor state to the UK for most if not all purposes.  Scotland would therefore have to apply, if it wished to join international organisations, and negotiate adherence to the thousands of treaties to which the UK is currently a party.  The vast majority of this should not be contentious, or particularly difficult, but the time and effort involved should not be underestimated.  We did not see any international issues or obligations as showstoppers in themselves, but there were some which could prove tricky, and more complex than was sometimes claimed.  Likewise we did not see international arguments as likely to prove decisive in the referendum campaign.  But we did see a need for as much clarity as possible about them to be available to the voters in advance.  As in other areas, it was important that, if Scotland voted “yes”, the Scots did not find subsequently that they had been sold a false international prospectus. There was no case for being gentle with the facts. This was particularly important since the threshold for independence could be considered low by most international standards – 50% plus one of those actually voting – which could produce a low percentage of the electorate who had voted in favour, and leave open at least the possibility of a rapid change of mind by enough people to cast doubt on the continuing validity of a vote bound to be seen as more or less irreversible in effect.

We did not see evidence of much current international support for Scottish independence – certainly not at the level of national governments, though most were being careful to say nothing publicly.  But we thought the attitude of the UK Government, before and after the referendum, would be a very important factor in how readily an independent Scotland would be welcomed by others in the international community.  The crucial point here was that Scotland had not gone down any kind of unilateral/UDI route.  The referendum and its question had been agreed by the governments in both London and Edinburgh, and the UK Government had agreed to be bound by its result.  This example of peaceful and democratic self-determination created legitimacy and would condition positively how others reacted. But it would be important that this civil spirit be maintained through and after the referendum (which might prove more difficult in the latter stages of the campaign).

Despite this generally constructive view of the possibility of Scottish independence – no-one was saying that Scotland could not be a viable independent country, even if there were many voices questioning the wisdom of such a step – there were several issues which could prove difficult to manage, and which in the short term inevitably increased the sense of uncertainty about the future.

The currency

This was seen by many as likely to be particularly contentious.  Of the various options available – continuing to use sterling, joining the euro, or issuing its own currency – the Scottish government had so far chosen the first, apparently on the basis that a currency union with the rest of the UK would be available, which would give Scotland at least some say in monetary and economic policy.  For their part, the UK Treasury in London had made clear that they did not see such a currency union as either desirable or at all likely.  The recent eurozone experience had amply demonstrated the downsides of a currency union, without full economic and political integration, and there was no interest or enthusiasm in London for going down that route.  Some in Scotland thought London might be bluffing about this, or that a future London government would take a different view, but that could prove a serious misjudgement.  Scotland could still use sterling without a currency union, if she so chose, but would have no say in key policy areas, and therefore little or no control over vital variables in overall economic policy.  This was clearly a crucial point, given that the main argument being put forward by those arguing for independence was to have fuller control of economic and social policy.

Why had the Scottish government opted to continue with sterling?  We were told that worry about the future value of savings and pensions was an important issue for many Scots. Sterling was seen as reassuring in this context.

Scotland and the EU

Entry into the EU was seen by most around the table as an awkward issue for an independent Scotland.  The result should not be in doubt, but the process held a number of pitfalls. On the assumption that Scotland was not considered the, or a, successor state to the UK, she would need to apply for membership.  On the one hand, she would automatically be the best qualified candidate ever, since the EU acquis already applied in Scotland.  There should therefore be no substantive difficulty about the outcome of her application, especially if it was supported by the rest of the UK, as had to be the assumption. The issues would be more political than legal. However a number of questions still arose.

The first was what the process would be and how long it might take.  The precedents were only so much use as a guide to the future. If there were a yes vote in the referendum, the current aim was for Scotland to become independent in early 2016, some 18 months later.  Was it feasible for the negotiations and necessary ratifications to be completed by then, and what would Scotland’s status be if there were a gap between independence and EU entry?  Moreover who would negotiate with the EU on Scotland’s behalf before independence – how would the UK Government, still formally responsible for Scotland and potentially dependent on the votes of Scottish MPs, work with the Scottish Government, who would obviously be the key players in the negotiation?  What would happen if the new Scottish Government, elected only after independence, did not accept the package negotiated on their behalf?

We had no ready answers to these questions. For Scotland to accede, the EU treaties would need to be amended, even if only in relatively minor ways.  There should be no need for referendums in existing member states, but the changes would still need to be ratified by national parliaments, which inevitably took many months.  This was what made the 18 month gap look unrealistically short. Nevertheless the majority view was that issues like this should be resolvable one way or another with a minimum of good will and common sense.  A special accelerated procedure for Scotland could be agreed.  Arrangements for a transitional period could no doubt be worked out which would allow the acquis to continue to apply.

The length of the negotiations would also depend crucially on what kind of demands Scotland made.  If she accepted the acquis more or less as it stood, they could be relatively quick, though issues like the Common Fisheries Policy could still be tricky, given the importance of Scottish waters.  But if she asked for a lot of deregulations/opt-outs, they could take a lot longer.  There would be limited sympathy even for granting the existing UK opt-outs, and probably no sympathy at all if Scotland were to ask for a UK-style budget rebate.  So Scotland might face an awkward choice between speed and substance. One obvious option which would help some of these problems was to postpone independence until after the election of a new Scottish government, and allow the negotiations, within reason, to take as long as they took. Exit and entry on the same day was the best outcome.

Where would Scotland stand on the major questions of the single currency and Schengen?  As a prospective new member, she would be required to sign up to both in principle, but should be able to avoid having to implement either in the short term.  Scotland would not qualify to join the euro immediately, even if she wanted to, and there was no reason to suppose any existing member state or the Commission would be inclined to force her to join if she did not want to.  If the eurozone survived in its present form, and at some stage started to expand again, Scotland might find it more difficult to avoid joining, but this would be a long-term issue.

Schengen might be more difficult in some ways.  The practical arguments in favour of a common travel area, as there already was between Ireland and the UK, would be very strong.  But there would be pressure to join, and Scotland might want, at some stage, to distinguish herself from the rest of the UK in terms of visa policy.  The idea of a border check at the Cheviots was therefore not entirely fanciful.  This might become an issue anyway if the rUK were to vote to leave the EU in a referendum, whether in 2017 or later, which could certainly not be excluded. 

How great would be the risk of one or more current member states making difficulties about Scotland’s EU membership? This could arise if some member states chose to use the negotiations to make demands of Scotland, for example over access to fisheries or over energy. A greater risk could arise from the fear by some countries of a precedent being set for their own potentially breakaway regions. It was potentially relevant that five EU countries had yet to recognise Kosovo. The most likely candidate for such a negative role was Spain, whose central government had taken a very different position over Catalonia and the Basque Country from that of the London government over Scotland.  Spanish intransigence could not be ruled out. It was certainly unlikely that Madrid would want to do Scotland any favours.  But most participants thought any serious blocking manoeuvres unlikely. The key difference from Kosovo would be that the rUK would not be resisting, unlike Serbia.

On the more technical side, as a small state, Scotland should receive a number of votes in the Council comparable to other small states.  These would not need to come out of the UK’s existing allocation, as the rest of the UK would still be big enough in population terms to match the other big member states.  But the situation might be trickier in terms of European Parliament seats. It would be hard to increase the overall number, which meant other member states would have to give up seats. They could be very reluctant to do this. 

The question of whether Scotland could find itself in the EU, while the rest of the UK was outside it, and the consequences of such a position, came up at different points of our discussion. There was an assumption that Scottish opinion was more pro-EU than that in the rest of the UK, certainly than in England.  This was certainly true of the political class, but polling suggested it was less true of the population as a whole – perhaps no more than a 3-4% difference from England.  Nevertheless, even if Scotland voted against independence in 2014, it was possible to envisage a situation for a future referendum where re-joining the EU might be an added attraction for the nationalist cause. It was just as well for the unionist cause that the order of the planned referendums of 2014 and 2017 was what it currently was. Meanwhile the Scots believed they could play a kind of bridging role between the EU and the rest of the UK.

Scotland and NATO

The (narrow) SNP vote in favour of an independent Scotland joining NATO had simplified the equation.  If the other member states were happy to see Scotland join, this could happen in theory relatively quickly and easily.  There was no reason in principle why other members would not want Scotland to join, particularly if the rest of the UK also wanted her to do so. Scotland’s geographical location meant that her northern waters were important strategically. 

However the nuclear issue was a major complicating factor.  While the question of the future basing of the current UK nuclear deterrent was essentially a matter between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK, the underlying and deep-rooted anti-nuclear policy of the current Scottish Government and the SNP in general might pose wider problems.  Would Scotland accept the protection of the NATO nuclear umbrella, and could she be a full member of NATO if she did not?  Would she be ready to accept the full collective defence implications of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty? Would she accept the Strategic Concept of NATO, about which there could not be negotiation? What assets would she prepared to put at NATO’s disposal?  Would an independent Scotland want to insist that no ships which were or could be carrying nuclear weapons would be allowed in her waters – or even nuclear-powered ships?  Either could pose major problems for the US in particular, with its policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of nuclear weapons on its ships.  The question mark which Scottish attitudes to Trident could place over the current UK deterrent could be seen as weakening NATO, which might again call into question Scotland’s commitment to NATO in some eyes. There could also be questions about how far a neutrality-inclined Scotland would help NATO play the global role which some saw as its future.

We also saw major bilateral question marks over the Trident basing issue. Even if a speedy agreement between the Scottish and rUK governments could be reached, it would be a good many years before the base could be moved. What arrangements would apply during such a period? Presumably any kind of dual key would be unacceptable in London, but it would be difficult for a Scottish government to accept no say over what happened about such weapons based on its territory. In any case it was not entirely clear that an alternative base could be found in the rUK, physically or politically. The Scottish government would certainly have important bargaining power over this issue, if it chose to exercise it, though the anti-nuclear movement was strong. There would also be implications for the Non-Proliferation Treaty which would need to be carefully thought through — the Soviet Union-Russia transition offered a useful precedent.

Would future Scottish defence spending match up to NATO requirements?  At the currently planned 1.4% of GDP, it would fall significantly short of the present NATO target of 2%.  On the other hand, this was also true of many existing NATO members.  How difficult would it be for Scotland to put together whatever defence capability it wanted?  That depended on the resources it wanted to put in, particularly for equipment, but in principle some Scots currently in the UK armed forces might be willing to transfer, which would help with experience and command structures; and some defence assets such as land and buildings could be transferred to Scotland as part of the wider division of assets and liabilities which would need to follow independence.  There would also be a strong case for close collaboration with the rest of the UK in areas such as air and sea defence, and perhaps some joint capabilities and operations.

An independent Scotland’s foreign policy

Much of our discussion in this area was speculative, but there were still some useful pointers.  We were told that Scotland would want to maintain strong relations with the rest of the UK, and with Ireland.  Thereafter a major priority would be a close relationship with the Scandinavian countries, with whom Scotland saw a lot in common.  Membership of the Nordic Council would probably be sought.  More widely, other EU member states, the US and Canada would be obvious targets for good links. But the trade and investment opportunities in the major emerging companies would also be particularly important. 

Scotland already had a network of trade and investment offices, and these would form the initial basis of their overseas presence after independence.  The size of the subsequent network would depend on how much a new independent government wanted to spend, but it was very unlikely to match the current UK network in scope. Start-up costs could still be considerable although, as in the defence area, some assets and some experienced diplomats might be available from the existing UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It was hard to be sure how close working relations with the rUK government could be in areas like consular and visa services, but it would be prudent to assume that Scotland would have to make its own provisions, particularly if it wanted a more open visa regime than the rest of the UK (which would cause other problems).

We were told that an independent Scotland would want to be a “good global citizen”, including a small bilateral aid programme and membership of the main international bodies (UN, IMF, World Bank, OECD, WTO, OSCE, Council of Europe etc).  The latter should not be problematic in most if not all cases, starting with the UN.

But what would happen if a future independent Scotland decided to adopt a foreign policy significantly different in some areas from that of the rest of the UK, to be “Cuba” rather than “Singapore”?  While this was no doubt implausible as a general proposition, Scotland might want to differentiate herself from the rest of the UK in relations with, for example, China or Russia, and other countries could be tempted to play on this for their own purposes. 

This also raised the question of security and intelligence matters, and the degree of co-operation with the rest of the UK.  Scotland would presumably want and need its own intelligence capability (which would again involve significant costs). There was no reason in principle why close co-operation with the UK should not be possible – with the major caveat that the close relationship between the UK and US agencies at every level would probably not be available to an independent Scotland, particularly if Scotland were seen to be playing an awkward role on nuclear issues.

The impact of an independent Scotland on the rest of the UK

On the assumption that the separation would be consensual and democratic, and given the obvious interest of both sides in good relations and close co-operation in many areas, the links between Scotland and rUK should be positive and friendly in general.  The rUK would have every interest in seeing a successful and prosperous Scotland and vice versa. Both sides would have a responsibility to find solutions to the problems. There could well be institutions which would continue to offer common services, such as the Drivers & Vehicle Licensing Authority, since splitting such institutions would offer little or no advantage to either side, and could involve significant extra costs for both. 

However wider questions also arose.  Citizenship rules for Scots not living in Scotland and non-Scots living in Scotland remained unclear. What would be the psychological and political impact on England?  Several speakers raised the spectre of the rise of a narrow and inward-looking English nationalism, encouraged by Scottish separation.  Certainly the constitutional arrangements of rUK would need to be revisited to get to grips with the issue of potential English nationalism and regionalism, and the even more excessive population dominance of England over Wales and Northern Ireland.

The impact on Wales would also be considerable.  Since Welsh devolution, support for independence had remained around 8%. But this could change in the wake of Scottish independence.  The Welsh would certainly watch the Scottish experience very carefully.  All current bets could be off.

The effect in and on Northern Ireland, and the island of Ireland overall, was also bound to be significant.  It was hard to predict how this would play out.  While it was unlikely to increase significantly the overall proportion of the people of Northern Ireland who wanted to separate from the rest of the UK and join Ireland, at least in the short term it might have this effect on some of the Catholic part of the population.  The Protestant majority might on the other hand start to think more about some kind of independent status for Northern Ireland, especially since Unionist attachment to the UK passed to a large extent through Scotland, given the historic links.  There was also an interesting question about how far Scotland would regard herself as having some kind of “co-responsibility” for Northern Ireland.  The security implications for Northern Ireland of an independent Scotland would also need to be looked at carefully. 

Ireland herself was remaining officially neutral over the prospect of Scottish independence, but was privately worried about how it might play out – she was not necessarily ready to contemplate reunification herself, certainly not in the short term.  At the very least the role of the Council of the Isles, set up in the wake of the Good Friday Northern Ireland Peace Agreement, would need to be revisited, though this should not be problematic in itself.

Another important question was the impact of Scottish separation on the rUK’s position and importance in the world.  There was no reason why, for example, the UK permanent seat on the Security Council should be seriously called into question (though some might be tempted to argue that Scottish independence illustrated further the incongruity of the old order).  Losing 10% of her population, though rather more of her territory, could be seen as relatively minor for the rUK in practical terms.  But there would obviously be consequences for the rUK defence budget, increasing further concerns about future capabilities, and for overseas-related spending in general, including for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  Moreover the psychological impact on the outside world of the UK “losing” part of herself might be disproportionate, reinforcing a perception of decline.  This perception could have a significant effect on the rUK’s prestige, influence and soft power in the world. The rUK could also turn inwards increasingly in the future, which would be seen by some, if not by all, as a loss for the international community.

Contrary arguments could also be made:  the UK would be demonstrating once again its democratic heritage, carrying through a wholly peaceful and consensual exercise of self-determination.  That would increase respect for the rUK in the world.  This argument clearly had particular appeal for those from other potentially breakaway regions, who wanted their governments to follow London’s example. It was also argued that the rUK would gain a genuine and committed friend in Scotland, while losing only a surly and resentful lodger. This would strengthen the country overall.

The wider international impact of Scottish independence

How far could there be an international “contagion” effect from a Scottish yes vote in the referendum? Those around the table supporting Scottish independence were keen to play this down.  Scotland was sui generis, because of her previous independent statehood, long-established national identity and culture, and the long-standing existence of separate institutions in the shape, for example, of the legal and educational systems.  It was not therefore a ready model for others.  Moreover the context of the Edinburgh Agreement and its mutually agreed terms of potential separation would not be easily replicable elsewhere. Other countries had constitutions which explicitly ruled out any change to their borders.

Others, not least from other potentially breakaway regions, took a very different view: the Scottish case was being watched very closely around the world, and would undoubtedly have a significant impact on the attitude of others, particularly those keen to follow its example.  This was particularly the case in Europe and North America, but there could be repercussions wider afield too.  It was less clear how central governments in such cases would react, i.e. by hardening or softening their views, but that was inevitably hard to predict at this stage. The hope of separatists was that the peaceful democratic example set by the UK and Scotland would be hard for others not to follow.

Would a Scottish “no” vote have a similarly significant dampening effect on the aspirations of others?  In the short term, the answer was probably yes.  But many assumed that the issue of Scottish independence would not go away and that a no vote in 2014 would not necessarily be the end of the story.  Other similar regions would therefore not easily abandon their hopes. Peaceful self-determination could in any case be seen as good for international peace by avoiding festering antagonisms and the resulting violence.

Is “separatism” a growing global phenomenon?

An important part of our discussion was less about Scotland as such, and more about the rise, or otherwise, of separatism (a term many disliked) around the world.  There were differing views about the extent to which separatist sentiment could be seen as growing.  In Europe and North America, there were currently few obvious regional candidates for independence, beyond Catalonia and the Basque Country in Spain and Quebec in Canada.  Belgium was a rather different case, where full separation continued to look difficult because of Brussels.  On the other hand, many states in Europe, including for example Germany and Italy, were relatively recent creations out of a number of previous entities. Who knew what emotions might be stirred if the ‘right’ circumstances were created, for example in the context of a continuing European economic crisis?

Looking outside Europe and North America, many state boundaries were artificial lines drawn by colonial powers. In Africa, the long-standing taboo on reopening borders, for fear of Pandora’s Box, had already been broken in two cases (Eritrea and South Sudan), and separatist sentiment was a reality in many countries, not least Nigeria.  In Asia, the break-up of existing states did not look imminent, but big states like India and China obviously contained many nationalities and regions where rising separatism could not be ruled out, to put it no more strongly than this.

The more fundamental question was what drove separatist sentiment.  In an age where individual states were losing power upwards and downwards, and where “sovereignty” appeared to mean less and less, what was the attraction of creating a new state, smaller than the previous one?  The full answer to such questions is beyond the scope of this Note, but we thought it was a combination of culture, economics and politics.  Culture, in the sense of identity, ethnicity, language, and history, was clearly a vital ingredient.  The feeling that within a bigger state a proud national culture could not find its full voice drove a lot of frustration. Membership in its own right of a regional grouping like the EU was attractive and seemed to pose little risk. Globalisation had increased the need to feel part of a local community.

Economically, globalisation, the mobility of capital and open trade borders meant that the advantages of being part of a large state had been largely neutralised.  Small states/clusters could do very well.  Politically, devolution had created new political actors who wanted to capitalise on nationalist sentiment. Moreover it remained the case that only states had a voice at the main international tables.  It was possible to envisage a situation where regions could be given an important say – there had been much talk of a ‘Europe of the regions’ at one stage – but there was no sign of anything serious on these lines so far.  Meanwhile the existence of regional groups of states, most notably the EU, gave small states, or those contemplating small statehood, a sense that they could shelter under a large umbrella even if they were no longer part of a bigger state.

These factors came together differently in different cases. In some cases culture/language seemed to predominate, for example in Quebec. In others the economic arguments were more to the fore. Was it legitimate to want to reopen the definition of a state? Some thought that existing democratically agreed constitutions always had to be respected. Others pointed to the artificial nature of nearly all current states, and to the overriding need to respect democratic wishes, rather than regarding historical decisions as automatically sacrosanct. Devolution was often a way forward, but its essential flaw was that it was something granted unilaterally by the state, rather than freely entered into by the region in question. There was a hankering after some option for regions which would be different from independence while still giving them the freedom of choice they sought, but no clear ideas about what that might be.

Future Calendar

We acknowledged that the electoral calendar in the UK did not help to make things easy. There will be European Parliamentary Elections in May 2014, before the Scottish referendum in September 2014. The UK faces a General Election in May 2015, with Scottish constituencies still voting, whatever the result of the referendum, followed by Scottish parliamentary elections in May 2016. The leader of the Conservative Party has promised a referendum on UK membership of the EU in 2017, if he is Prime Minister. If the Scottish referendum result is a yes, the technical questions described above are challenging enough. The potential political difficulties of this electoral timetable could be much more problematic.


We tried to avoid talking about the merits of Scottish independence, and largely succeeded, despite some strong views around the table.  It may be doubtful whether most neutrals listening would have heard much in this discussion to convince them that Scotland would be better off internationally if she were independent, or that the world would be a significantly better or safer place either.  But two key points were that, while the international road for a newly independent Scotland might be far from trouble-free, no show-stoppers had emerged for now from what we had discussed; and that international issues were unlikely to be decisive in most Scots’ minds.  One potential exception seemed to be the currency issue.  Scotland could choose to use sterling, but would have little or no say in monetary policy, and would have corresponding difficulty in exercising the economic freedom put forward as the main reason for independence.  Similarly the internationally-related start-up costs, and running costs, of independence would inevitably be a brake on the ability to devote more public spending to the kind of policies designed to increase social and economic equality in society which were such an important part of the nationalist case. But there would be some compensating savings for Scotland too.

Meanwhile it was also clear that the full implications of Scottish independence for other parts of the UK and the rest of Europe and the world had by no means been fully considered or thought through. The current state of the polls in Scotland might help to explain this, together with the reluctance of third countries to seem to interfere, for fear that this would prove counterproductive. The UK government was determinedly not planning for Scottish independence. This might still prove short-sighted. Certainly no-one at Ditchley imagined that the issue was already settled.

This Note reflects the Director’s personal impressions of the conference. No participant is in any way committed to its content or expression.

CHAIR: Sir Emyr Jones Parry GCMG
Chairman, Wales Millennium Centre (2010-); President, The University of Aberystwyth (2008-).  Formerly: Member, Mackay Commission on West Lothian Question (2012-13); Chairman, All Wales Convention (2007-09); HM Diplomatic Service (1973-2007): Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations, New York (2003-07); Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the North Atlantic Council, Brussels (2001-03); Political Director, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1998-2001); Director, European Union (1997-98).

His Excellency Mr Johan Verbeke
Ambassador of Belgium to the United Kingdom (2010-).  Formerly: Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General in Georgia (2008-09); Special Coordinator of the UN Secretary General in Lebanon (2008); Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, New York (2004-08).
Mr Ben Weyts MP
Member (N-VA) and Vice President, Belgian Chamber of Representatives (2008-); Vice President, Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA) party. Formerly: Spokesperson and Chief of Staff of Flemish minister Geert Bourgeois.

Professor Dr Stéphane Beaulac
University of Montreal: Professor, Faculty of Law (2001-); Programme Director on North American Common Law, Graduate School.  Formerly: Lecturer on comparative constitutional law, University of Trento (2010-11); Visiting Professor, University of Ulster (2010); Max Weber Research Fellow, European University Institute, Florence (2006-07); Director, Quebec Journal of International Law (2005-08).
His Excellency Mr Gordon Campbell 
High Commissioner of Canada to the United Kingdom (2011-). Formerly: Premier of the Province of British Columbia (2001-11); Leader, British Columbia Liberal Party; Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vancouver-Point Grey (1996-2001), for Vancouver-Quinchena (1994-96); Mayor, City of Vancouver.  Ex-officio member of the Council of Management and a Governor of The Ditchley Foundation.
Dr Jean-François Caron 
Professor, Department of Political Science, Moncton University, New Brunswick.
Ms Janice Charette 
Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council and Associate Secretary to the Cabinet, Privy Council Office, Government of Canada (2010-).
The Honourable Stéphane Dion PC MP 
Member of Parliament for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville, House of Commons, Canada (1996-). Formerly: Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada; Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons; Minister of the Environment (2004-05); Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs (1996-03).

Ambassador Jirí Schneider 
First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and State Secretary for European Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic (MFA) (2010-). Formerly: Program Director, Prague Security Studies Institute (2005-10); Director General, Security and Multilateral Section, MFA (2004-05); Director, Policy Planning Department, MFA (1993-04, 1999-2001, 2003-04); Ambassador to Israel (1995-98); Member, Czechoslovak Federal Assembly (1990-92).

Professor Pauline Schnapper 
Professor of British Politics, University of Paris (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3); Treasurer, French section, Franco-British Council.

Dr Rudolf Adam
Minister and Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, London.  A Member of the Programme Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.

Dr Paul Gillespie 
Executive Council Member, Institute of International and European Affairs, Dublin; Columnist and Editorial Writer, The Irish Times; Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin. Formerly: Foreign Editor, The Irish Times; Visiting Fellow, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Florence (2010).

Mr Simone Florio 
PhD Candidate, Instituto de la Paz y los Conflictos, Faculty of Political Science and Sociology, University of Granada.

Mr Jon Imanol Azua Mendia 
President and Chief Executive Officer, E-novating Lab, Bilbao; President and Partner, E-Venture. Formerly: CEO, Guascor-Dresser Rand Group (2008-11); Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Energy of the Basque Government (1991-95); CEO, Bilbao Stock Exchange (1989-1991); Member of the Basque Parliament (1987-1989); Minister of Health and Labour (1986-88); Managing Partner, Strategy and Public Services, Andersen; Managing Partner, Public Services Europe, BearingPoint.
Mr Antonio Barroso 
Senior Vice President, Teneo Intelligence. Formerly: Senior Political Analyst (Europe), Eurasia Group; Graduate Associate, Revenue Watch Institute; Research Assistant, Center for Political and Constitutional Studies, Ministry of the Presidency, Madrid; Fieldwork Coordinator, Center for Sociological Research, Ministry of the Presidency, Madrid.
Dr Hèctor López Bofill
Professor of Constitutional Law, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.

Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford (Retd)
Founder (1999) and Proprietor, Stuart Crawford Associates, Edinburgh; Co-Author, “A' the Blue Bonnets: Defending an Independent Scotland” (RUSI, October 2012). Formerly: Regular Army officer, 4th Royal Tank Regiment (1980-99); Graduate, British Army Staff College, Camberley (1986), and US Army Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (1993); Instructor, British Army Staff College, Camberley (1993-95); Defence Research Fellow, Glasgow University (1995-96).
Mr James Maxwell
Contributor, New Statesman; Contributor, Bella Caledonia; Co-Editor, 'Arguing for Independence: Evidence, Risk and the Wicked Issues'.
Mr Stephen Noon 
Chief Strategist, Yes Scotland (2012-).  Formerly: Independence Unit, Scottish National Party (2011-12); Special Adviser to the First Minister of Scotland (2011); Message and Manifesto Development, Scottish National Party (2010-11); Senior Policy Adviser to the First Minister of Scotland (2007-10).

Ms Catherine Adams
Deputy Legal Adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  Formerly: Legal Adviser, UK Representation to the United Nations, New York; Legal Counsellor, Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, Attorney General's Office (2002-05).
Professor Wendy Alexander
Associate Dean, London Business School (2012-). Formerly, Visiting Professor, Strathclyde Business School; Member of the Scottish Parliament; Labour Holyrood Leader; Cabinet Minister with responsibility for enterprise, transport and higher education; Special Adviser to Secretary of State for Scotland.
Mr Graham Avery CMG
Senior Member, St Antony's College, Oxford University; Senior Adviser, European Policy Centre, Brussels; Honorary Director-General, European Commission.  Formerly: European Commission (1973-2006): Director for Strategy, Coordination and Analysis, Directorate General for External Relations (2003-06), Chief Adviser for Enlargement (1996-2002); Fellow, Center for International Affairs, Harvard University (1986-87); Fellow, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Florence (2002-03, 2009-10); Visiting Professor, College of Europe, Natolin (2003-05).
Mr David Birrell
Chief Executive, Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce (2012-); Member, Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland. Formerly: Unilever UK and International Executive.
The Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell CBE QC MP
Member of Parliament, Liberal Democrat, Fife North East (1987-); Member: Intelligence and Security Joint Committee (2008-), Foreign Affairs Select Committee (2008-).  Formerly: Liberal Democrat Party Leader (2006-07); Deputy Leader (2003-06); Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for: Foreign Affairs (2001-06), Defence (1999-2001). A Governor, The Ditchley Foundation.
Professor Malcolm Chalmers
Research Director and Director, UK Defence Policy, Royal United Services Institute; Special Adviser to the UK Parliament's Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy.  Formerly: Member, UK Cabinet Office consultative group, 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review; Member, UK Defence Secretary's Advisory Forum, 2010 Defence Green Paper; Visiting Professor of Defence and Foreign Policy, Department of War Studies, Kings College, London.
Professor John Curtice 
Co-Director, Centre for Elections and Representation, Department of Government, University of Strathclyde; Research Consultant, Scottish Centre for Social Research (2001-); President, British Polling Council; Member, Governing Board, UK Data Service; Member, Policy Advisory Committee, Institute for Public Policy Research; President, British Politics Group of American Political Science Association; Economic and Social Research Council Senior Scotland Fellow (2013).
Mr Nicholas Ferguson CBE
Chairman, BSkyB plc; Chairman, Alta Advisers.  Formerly: Chairman, SVG Capital plc; Chairman, Courtauld Institute of Arts; Chairman, Institute for Philanthropy.  A Governor of The Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Roderick Gow OBE
Chairman and Founder, The Asia Scotland Institute, Edinburgh (2012-); Co-Vice Chairman, Cubitt Consulting, London (2010-); Chairman and Founder, Canongate Partners Limited (2011-);Vice Chairman International, Prudent Capital Partners; Board Member, British American Business.  Formerly: Chief Executive, Asia House; Founding Chairman, Gow & Partners; Deputy Chairman, Amrop International; Chief Executive, GKR; Managing Director, Russell Reynolds Associates.
Lord Hennessy of Nympsfield FBA 
Crossbench Peer, House of Lords; Attlee Professor of Contemporary British History, Queen Mary College, University of London (1992-); Fellow of the British Academy.  Formerly: Chairman, Kennedy Memorial Trust (1995-2000); Co-Founder, Institute of Contemporary British History (1986); Leader Writer and Columnist, The Times (1982-84); Whitehall Correspondent, The Times (1976-82).  A Governor, a Member of the Council of Management and of the Programme Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Derek Jones CB
Permanent Secretary, Welsh Government; Member, Royal Anniversary Trust Awards Council for tenth round of Queen's Anniversary Prizes. Formerly: Chairman, South East Wales Economic Forum; Chairman, Membership Selection Panel, Dwr Cymru Welsh Water; Board Member, EADS Foundation Wales; Director of Business and Strategic Partnerships, Cardiff University (2008-12); Director of Economic Affairs, Head of Finance Programmes, Head of Industrial Policy, Wales Office; Head of Far East Trade Desk, DTI. 
Mr Magnus Linklater CBE 
Columnist and Contributor, The Times (1994-); Chairman, The Little Sparta Trust; President, The Saltire Society. Formerly: Scottish Editor, The Times (2007-12); Chairman, Scottish Arts Council (1996-2001); Editor, The Scotsman (1988-94); Managing Editor (News), The Observer; Executive Editor, The Sunday Times.
Mr Ciaran Martin 
Director, Constitution Group, Cabinet Office (2011-). 
The Rt Hon Michael Moore MP 
Secretary of State for Scotland (2010-); Member of Parliament (Liberal Democrat) for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (2005-).  Formerly: Spokesman for International Development (2007-10); Deputy Leader, Scottish Liberal Democrats; Spokesman for Foreign Affairs (2006-07); Spokesman for Defence (2005-06); Member of Parliament (Liberal Democrat) for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (1997-99).  A Governor, of The Ditchley Foundation.
The Rt Hon Peter Riddell CBE, FRHistS 
Director, Institute for Government (IfG), London (2012-). Formerly: Senior Fellow, IfG (2008-11); Chairman, Hansard Society (2007-12); Chief Political Commentator, The Times (1991-2010); Chair, Economic and Social Research Council advisory board programme on constitutional change and devolution (2000-06).
The Rt Hon Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG Hon FRSE PC 
Special Adviser, BP plc; International Adviser, Cable and Wireless Communications plc; Senior Counsellor, The Cohen Group (USA); Chairman, Commission on Global Road Safety. Formerly: Deputy Chairman, TNK-BP (2006-13); Deputy Chairman, Cable and Wireless plc (2004-06); Secretary General, NATO and Chairman, North Atlantic Council (1999-2003); Secretary of State for Defence (1997-99); Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland (1992-97); Member, House of Commons (1978-99). Chairman of the Council of Management, The Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Rory Stewart OBE MP
Member of Parliament (Conservative) for Penrith and The Border (2010-); Member, Foreign Affairs Select Committee (2010-); Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights (on leave), Harvard University (2009-); Director (on leave), Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School.  Formerly: Founder and CEO, Turquoise Mountain, Kabul (2006-08); Coalition Deputy Governor, Maysan and Dhi Qar Provinces, Iraq (2003); HM Diplomatic Service: postings to Indonesia and Montenegro; British Army.  A Member of Programme Committee, The Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Robert Tinline
HM Diplomatic Service: Deputy Head of Mission and Political Counsellor, United Kingdom Representation to the European Union.
Mrs Karen Watt
Director, External Affairs, The Scottish Government.

Professor Nicholas Burns
Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics; Faculty Chair, Middle East Initiative, India and South Asia Programme and Director, Future of Diplomacy Project, Harvard Kennedy School of Government (2008-); bi-weekly foreign affairs columnist, Boston Globe (2011-) and GlobalPost (2013-). Formerly: US Diplomatic Service (1982-2008); Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, US Department of State, Washington DC (2005-08); US Ambassador to NATO (2001-05); US Ambassador to Greece (1997-2001). Vice Chair, The American Ditchley Foundation.
Mr Thomas Pickering 
Vice Chairman, Hills and Company, Washington DC; Consultant, The Boeing Company.  Formerly: Senior Vice-President International Relations and Member, Executive Council, The Boeing Company (2001-06); Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, US State Department (1997-2000); President, Eurasia Foundation (1996-97); Ambassador of the US to Russian Federation (1993-96), to India (1992-93); Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York (1989-92); Ambassador to Israel (1985-88), to El Salvador (1983-85), to Nigeria (1981-83), to Jordan (1974-78).  A Member of the Board of Directors, The American Ditchley Foundation.