US consul signals Joe Biden's opposition to Scottish independence
President Joe Biden wants stability rather than political upheaval from America’s international allies, according to a senior member of the US’s ambassadorial staff.
Ellen Wong, who is leaving her role as principal officer of the American consulate in Edinburgh, said the US president wanted “strong ties” with the UK and Scotland, and hinted at his lack of support for the break up of the UK, stressing a need for “domestic political and economic stability”.
Ms Wong, who was appointed in her role under the previous Donald Trump administration, is reported as saying the US State Department is keen to build business, cultural and educational links with Scotland, and that it is also “monitoring closely” the Scottish Government’s stance on the location of Trident.
Mr Biden has already raised constitutional concerns, urging the UK Government to ensure the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland must not "become a casualty of Brexit".
Similarly, before the 2014 independence referendum, former president Barack Obama said the US had "a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner".
Ms Wong said: "I'm not going to speak on behalf of President Biden, but what I would say is you know I listed all these many ties that exist across the Atlantic and I think our priority is ensuring that these ties continue to be strong and continue to prosper.
"Regardless of the Brexit process or any constitutional question, we want to ensure that there is domestic political and economic stability because that's the ally that we want."
Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants a second independence referendum to be held before the end of 2023, and it is expected her latest plan will be produced at next month's SNP conference and in her programme for government.
On the potential removal of the Trident nuclear deterrent from Scottish waters, Ms Wong said the State Department was "certainly monitoring the situation here closely”.
Ms Wong's comments come as a leading supporter of independence at the 2014 referendum, Professor Sir Tom Devine, said his public backing for the Yes campaign may have been a mistake.
The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University told a book festival audience he was now weighing up his continued support for independence.
Asked if it was a mistake for him to come out in favour of independence, Prof Devine sighed and said: "You might have put your finger on something. It was a decision at the time. Whether it was a decision for ever will be revealed in due course."
He said he felt the UK Government of the time would have been more willing to conduct an amicable relationship with an independent Scotland.
Addressing a suggestion that he should have remained neutral before the referendum, Prof Devine said: "Every historian is biased. Most of the biases we have we are not aware of."
Earlier this year Prof Devine called for “cool heads” over the timing of a second referendum and said: "The people of Scotland will not necessarily support the decision of a government which attempts to offer the prospect of huge constitutional change before national recovery has been established after the long months of painful adversity."
A message from the Editor:Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.