Scottish independence treaty deadline “realistic”

Nicola Sturgeon says the UK government has scored an 'own goal'. Picture: Greg Mcvean
Nicola Sturgeon says the UK government has scored an 'own goal'. Picture: Greg Mcvean
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THE leading expert in international law commissioned by the UK Government has said that the SNP’s claim that it can renegotiate its membership of key international bodies in 18 months is achievable.

Professor James Crawford’s comments have been described as an “own goal” for the UK Government by SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The academic and top international barrister, who has made 23 appearances at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) had along with Professor Alan Boyle of Edinburgh University produced a 57-page document for the UK Government stating that in the event of Scottish independence Scotland would have to “start again” while the rest of the UK would be the successor state.

This would mean Scotland would need to apply to join organisations such as Nato, the UN, the European Union and world Trade Organisation as well as look at 14,000 treaties the UK is a signatory to.

While the UK government and pro-UK campaigners claimed this would make it difficult for Scotland to be independent by March 2016, as laid out by the SNP Scottish Government, Professor Crawford said it was “realistic”.

In a broadcast interview Professor Crawford said that rejoining the EU would not “necessarily going to be difficult” as he indicated that Scotland’s admittance to the United Nations in the wake of independence would be “straightforward”.

Speaking during media interviews, Prof Crawford also said the renegotiation of international treaties was “not going to be a major issue” as he accepted that the EU negotiations would take place from within the European Union.

Own goal

Ms Sturgeon, welcomed Prof Crawford’s comments.

She said: “The fact that the UK Government’s own legal experts have backed the Scottish Government’s negotiation timetable and accepted that EU negotiations need not be difficult is a huge own goal and betrays the entirely ‘can’t do’ attitude of the No campaign.

“We are clear that talks will be required to negotiate Scotland’s continuing membership of the European Union and that these will be carried out in the period following a ‘yes’ vote while Scotland remains part of the EU.

Previously the Irish government has claimed that a Scottish application could take time and the Spanish government has warned Scotland “would have to get to the back of the queue.”

Lib Dem UK Advocate General Lord Jim Wallace, a former Deputy First Minister of Scotland, said: “The legal advice is clear.

“In the event of independence, the remainder of the UK would continue as before, and Scotland would form a new, separate state.”