LONDON: The British government today intensified its campaign to stop Scotland leaving the United Kingdom, publishing a legal opinion suggesting it would forfeit its membership of international bodies such as the European Union if it chose independence.
The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) that runs Scotland’s devolved government plans to hold a referendum on the politically sensitive and emotionally charged subject next year, and has played down the impact of a ‘Yes’ vote on Scotland’s international status.
But the 57-page legal opinion – drafted for the British government by two leading independent experts on international law – said the implications could be far-reaching.
The overwhelming weight of international precedent suggested Scotland would be legally deemed a ‘new state’, it said – a scenario that would force it to re-apply to join international bodies such as the EU, the United Nations and NATO.
Its unusual decision to publish such an opinion reflects its concern that Scots may vote for independence, triggering the break-up of a United Kingdom comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.