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Scottish independence: Scots world influence claim

Sir Jeremy said he would be personally disappointed if Scotland left the UK. Picture: TSPL

Sir Jeremy said he would be personally disappointed if Scotland left the UK. Picture: TSPL

  • by ANDREW WHITAKER
 

A SMALL nation with big personalities and a resource such as oil could have “roughly the same” influence on the world stage as big countries, a former special envoy to Tony Blair has claimed.

Sir Jeremy Greenstock, who served as the UK’s former ambassador to the UN, said the independence referendum gives Scotland the choice of being a small state with a “big Scottish label”, or a less distinct region with the weight of the UK’s population behind it.

The former diplomat said even the US could find itself marginalised in the world if it fields poor diplomats, but smaller countries with “a very powerful individual” at the helm can be more influential.

However, Sir Jeremy said self-determination has its limits and can leave small nations exposed to the “larger storms of the global level” if its leadership is weak.

Sir Jeremy, who was Tony Blair’s special envoy to Iraq, said; “I see the product as being roughly the same,” as he addressed a meeting of the United Nations (UN) Association of Scotland at Holyrood yesterday.

‘Disappointed’

He said he would be personally disappointed if Scotland left the UK, having viewed with dismay the growing influence of “identity politics” over global unity around the world.

But he said he could live with either outcome and rejected the notion that one is inherently “better” than the other.

“I wouldn’t choose the word ‘better’, it’s a choice of what you want,” he said.

“Don’t expect a change except in your feeling of Scottishness. The smaller populations represented by member states in the UN have a distinct voice and are recognised with the label of their national name on it.

“That could be more influential if they play their cards cleverly, have a particular national attribute like a lot of oil or some other natural resource, or be the gateway to something important for the larger states.

“Or they could have a very powerful individual as their representative at the UN.

“The US could have an individual who fails to project themselves and lessens American power.”

UN

Sir Jeremy, who is half-Scottish, said Scotland would secure independent membership of the UN “quite quickly with the willing co-operation of the rump UK”, but it is unlikely to get a seat on the UN Security Council.

He said: “I personally can live with either answer from the Scottish people.

“I think I would regret not having Scotland as part of me

geopolitically, since I am half-Scottish, and I would regret it from a diplomatic point of view because the Scots nation has contributed an enormous amount to British diplomacy and the handling of foreign affairs.”

Read more on Scottish independence here

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