A former Chancellor of the Exchequer has said the Shetland Islands may want to stay in the UK as an overseas territory rather than become part of an independent Scotland.
Lord Norman Lamont, who was Chancellor from 1990 to 1993 in John Major’s government, argued that if a majority of Shetlanders wanted to separate from an independent Scotland the islands could pursue a ‘Faroese model’ and have a relationship with the UK similar to that of Denmark and the Faroe Islands.
The Faroe Islands, which are 208 miles north west of Shetland, are classed as an autonomous country within the Danish Realm. The Faroese government have their own parliament and hold executive power in local government affairs.
The Conservative peer was responding to a question on Shetland independence in a podcast for The Shetland Times.
Lord Lamont said: “If Scotland were independent I think [Shetland islanders] looking for a Faroese type of devolution would be a perfectly legitimate thing to ask for.”
The Tory grandee added that he was not trying to “stir-up” the constitutional debate.
Lord Lamont, who was born in the islands’ capital of Lerwick, said that many Shetlanders were already independent in spirit and many felt they had more in common with Norway than Scotland.
He said they would be able to support themselves from the revenues of the nearby oil fields in their territorial waters.
Last week oil exploration firm Hurricane Energy uncovered what it described as the largest undeveloped oil discovery on the UK Continental Shelf.
The firm estimated one billion barrels of oil reside within the Halifax well within the Greater Lancaster Area (GLA), 60 miles west of Shetland.
Commenting on the discovery Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government minister for business, innovation and energy, said: “It’s clear that the continental shelf in waters adjacent to Scotland, such as areas to the west of Shetland, continue to hold very significant potential.
The Shetland Islands voted strongly against Scottish independence in 2014 with 64 per cent of voters saying No.