AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would have “reduced clout” and “diluted influence” on the world stage, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore will claim today in a flagship speech to an audience in the United States.
The UK Cabinet minister will deliver the stark warning in Washington DC, in what is the first keynote address made overseas by a senior unionist figure on the independence issue.
Mr Moore, who is on a three-day trade mission to meet business leaders in US and Canada, will also claim independence would create new barriers” and “divide markets”, with a dramatic fall in trade between Scotland and North America.
He will warn Scotland would suffer in a similar way to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992, which saw exports from the Czech Republic to Slovakia plummet from 22 per cent to 8 per cent, and trade the other way drop from 42 per to 13 per cent of total exports in a decade.
Mr Moore will tell an audience at Georgetown University that an independent Scotland would be “unable to contribute meaningfully to global security”, ahead of a meeting of senators and congressmen later today.
But he was criticised last night by the Scottish Government, with a spokesman for Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon dismissing his claims and saying he was using his visit to North America to “talk Scotland down”.
Mr Moore’s speech comes after a series of high-profile visits made by Alex Salmond to the US, Germany and Spain, where the First Minister has attempted to promote Scottish independence. Tomorrow, the Scottish Secretary will travel to Canada, where he will meet political and business leaders in Ottawa and Montreal.
Mr Moore’s visit is expected to be the first in a series of overseas trade missions involving UK government ministers where they will set out the case against independence.
The visit comes after a Washington Post editorial warned Scotland would be “unable to contribute meaningfully to global security”.
It prompted a strong rebuttal from the SNP, leading to an article by Mr Salmond in the Post at the weekend challenging its factual errors and “disappointing” tone.
Mr Moore will use today’s speech in Washington to warn that Scots who vote Yes to independence risk “shedding influence over their own destiny”.
He will also say that, while the remainder of the UK is “likely” to continue in the European Union, an independent Scotland “would be required to seek membership”.
“Based on legal and academic opinion, the most likely outcome in the event of Scotland leaving the UK is that the remaining UK would continue as an EU member state,” Mr Moore will say. “By definition, the remaining UK would be a smaller entity, shedding influence, but it would remain a comparatively large, wealthy and powerful player.
“Scotland, as a new state, would be required to seek membership, on negotiated terms, with the unanimous approval of every other EU member state.”
Mr Moore will claim that Scotland would not have a seat at the top table in the influential G7 and G20 group of nations.
He will say: “A Scotland that downsizes its influence on the European platform also downsizes its influence on the world stage. As of now, the United Kingdom sits at the top tables of the EU, the G20, the G7, where the big economic decisions are taken.
“Under the last government, the prime minister and finance minister who sat there were both Scots, and proud of it. If Scotland, and all of the United Kingdom, are to retain tomorrow the influence we have today on economic direction of the world, we must stay together.
“Creating a separate state – no matter how well it gets on with its closest neighbour – creates new barriers, either immediately or over time, and divides single, domestic markets.”
However, Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said: “It is sad that Michael Moore should waste the opportunity of going to the States to talk Scotland down with a negative message, instead of promoting our country.
“Mr Moore appears to be implying that it is bad for Scotland to decide our own policy, as if this didn’t already happen in many areas.
“The fact is that, with the degree of independence we already have in the Scottish Parliament, we have more successful inward investment, small business support and exports promotion policy than Westminster operates – as well as in health, police numbers and student support.
“We can have equally successful policies with the full powers of an independent Scotland in the areas currently reserved to Westminster.”