In A BBC interview last week, Blair MacDougall, head of the
Better Together campaign, said it is “absolutely certain” that an independent Scotland would “be leaving the European Union”.
This is simply untenable. The break-up of an existing EU member state is an unprecedented situation and, therefore, there can be no certainty on either side.
I have asked the European Commission directly for clarification on this specific issue, to which the response was that the EC “will not speculate on hypothetical scenarios, since to do so could only be misleading and that would not be in the interests of an informed democratic debate”.
Some, such as Alex Salmond on the pro-independence side of this debate, have (unwisely in my view) made similar claims of “certainty” about EU membership continuing unchanged and uninterrupted in the event of independence. What is striking is the different level of scrutiny applied to each claim. The assertions of the Yes side have been subjected to word-by-word dissection, examination and testing by the media. Yet, that same media has left Mr MacDougall’s equal and opposite (and arguably much more fanciful) claim go unchallenged.
North Berwick, East Lothian