Which countries would be Scotland's closest allies after independence?

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An independent Scotland would have to find its place in a changing global order.

Nicola Sturgeon backs an immediate return to the EU fold after independence which would mean intrinsic links with the 27-strong (after the UK leaves)Brussels bloc of nations. But which nations would be among the closest strategic allies to Scotland if it became independent?


Ireland

Scottishindependence supporters in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin

Scottishindependence supporters in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin

Relations between Nicola Sturgeon and Leo Varadkar appeared warm and cordial when the pair met at the British Irish Council last week, a marked improvement from the bizarre diplomatic row which erupted between the row nations earlier this year overfishing activity around the tiny North Atlantic islet of Rockall, with Irish trawlers even threatened with "enforcement action."

Ireland was held up as a "Celtic tiger" nation for an independent Scotland to follow in the footsteps by the SNP at the turn of the decade as part of an "arc of prosperity" taking in Iceland and the Scandinavian nations.

Granted, that was before the financial crash and EU bailout but relations remain warm between the two nations, with Scotland looking to learn from Dublin about how it deals with drugs deaths.

Ireland is also part of the "Arctic Policy Framework" launched recently by External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop aimed at fostering closer relations between countries in the region.

Norway
What Scotland might have been, according to Nationalists, with more astute stewardship of the country's North Sea oil wealth. Norway had North Sea reserves which roughly match that of the UK.

Sidse Babett Knudsen stars in Danish TV drama Borgen which includes Nicola Sturgeon among its fans

Sidse Babett Knudsen stars in Danish TV drama Borgen which includes Nicola Sturgeon among its fans

But the 5 million-strong country (roughly the same size as Scotland) invested it in a sovereign wealth fund which is now worth more than £1 trillion making Norway one of the richest nations on earth.

The UK is dealing with a national debt of more than £2 trillion and rising - while all the main parties seek to outbid each other on election giveaways. Norway also sits outside the EU as part of the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA) which the SNP may seek to adopt if the country's rote back into the EU.

And of course the close links with the Orkney and Shetland are almost a stepping stone between the two countries. Norway is also part of Scotland's Arctic Policy framework.

Denmark

Perhaps the archetypal example of modern Scandinavian democracy model which Scotland could look to emulate with an emphasis on strong public services and higher taxes to pay for them.

With roughly the same population size as Scotland, it has been a target of growing trade activity in recent years with Scottish Development International's base in Copenhagen having helped exports increase by 3% a year to reach almost £900 million.

The World Bank has rated it the third easiest nation in the world to do business as a result of its strong economy and highly education workforce - another feature Scotland would love to emulate. Nicola Sturgeon's penchant for the Danish political drama Borgen, set in the Danish Parliament, won't do links any harm.

US
Notwithstanding the current frosty relations between Nicola Sturgeon and Donald Trump, the US will always be one of Scotland's closest strategic allies over the extensive cultural and economic ties. The number of Americans who claim Scottish descent is thought to number between 20 to 25 million the proliferation of Burns Nights across the country and the annual Tartan day parade in New York is testament to its prevalence.

It also means the US accounts for the highest number of global visitors to Scotland from any country, with almost half million making the trip every year. The US has also long been Scotland's biggest international trading partner, accounting for about £5.5 billion of exports every years.

UK
Scottish independence - a vote to leave a union with other home nations stretching back over 300 years - may inevitably cause some rancour and even hurt south of the border.

But cordial relations with the Rest of the United Kingdom (RUK) will be absolutely vital in a post-independence scenario not least because it will remain our closest neighbour and the familial and culture ties won't just simply disappear overnight.

Independence will also inevitably lead to years of negotiations over the "divorce" split of assets and liabilities. With delicate issues like the removal of the Trident nuclear deterrent from the Clyde among the issue likely to be on the agenda it will be vital these are carried out in a respectful and cordial manner.

The rest of the UK also currently accounts for almost £50 billion of Scottish exports and the Scottish Government will be desperate not to jeopardise this and threaten the fledgling nation's fragile economy.