Scottish independence: Split timescale ‘ludicrous’

Professor Adam Tomkins warned of 'chaos' if an agreement is not reached by 24 March 2016. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Professor Adam Tomkins warned of 'chaos' if an agreement is not reached by 24 March 2016. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A CONSTITUTIONAL expert has warned of “chaos” if an agreement cannot be reached by 24 March 2016 – the day the Scottish Government has designated as “independence day” in the event of a Yes vote in September.

Giving evidence to the Scottish affairs select committee yesterday, Professor Adam Tomkins, the John Millar chair of public law at Glasgow University and adviser to the House of Lords constitution committee, described the timetable of reaching an agreement in 18 months as “ludicrous”.

The pro-Union academic said: “Their proposal to move as quickly as that is risible.

“It’s a preposterous timetable. Unpicking a 307-year-old union will be a mighty difficult task. Almost all of it will be done, if we ever get there, and I hope that we won’t, by political negotiation. In between the referendum and the proposed independence day we have the small matter of the UK general election, but even without that the SNP’s proposed timetable would be ludicrous.

“It’s completely unrealistic and appears to me to have been set for purely party-political reasons because they want it to occur while they still have a majority in Holyrood.”

Liberal Democrat Argyll and Bute MP Alan Reid asked what options would be open to the Scottish Government if on 23 March 2016, the night before independence day, there was no agreement on separation.

Prof Tomkins answered: “I don’t know. Universal declaration of independence.”

In answer to Mr Reid’s question on what that would mean, Prof Tomkins said: “Chaos.”

Iain McLean, professor of politics at Nuffield College, Oxford University, said “there would be huge pressure on both countries”.

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