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The SNP led by Nicola Sturgeon have reignited the debate around Scottish independence which culminated in a defeat for the Yes campaign in 2014. But after the UK voted to leave the EU in 2016 – despite most in Scotland opting for Remain – Ms Sturgeon believes she has a mandate to take Scotland into the EU via independence. But this has led to debate surrounding the ease with which Scotland could join the bloc, and the economic repercussions of independence. Tim Worstall – a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute – argued in his article for Forbes in 2016 that the issue could hurt the SNP.
He claimed “there is no easy way for Scotland to get in. It cannot slide through by saying it was already in thus should have an easy time of it or anything”.
He added: “What this means is that Scotland will need to have that second referendum.
“And I think I speak for many if not most English when I say that if they want to leave well, goodbye and good luck.
“Also that they’re going to need that good luck. For the next stage would obviously be to join the European Union, as they say they want to.”
Mr Worstall said from a legal perspective, Scotland could integrate easily, but it wouldn’t be so seamless from an economic perspective.
He continued: “In order to join the EU you’ve got to have a budget deficit of three percent of GDP or less or be obviously (which allows for some fudging) moving in that direction.
“And Scotland, now that oil has plummeted, simply is not there. It’s difficult, given the intertwining of British and Scottish accounts to get it exactly right but reasonable estimates have the Scottish alone budget deficit at 8 to 10 percent of GDP.
“At which point the EU won’t let Scotland in. Not unless they do some fiscal contraction amounting to a good five percent or so of GDP.
“And that’s why the SNP don’t actually want what they’re claiming to want, independence and then EU entry.
“Because imposing that sort of austerity on their own nation, when they are obviously in charge and responsible, would kill them as a political party.”
However, some experts disagree.
Brussels expert Anthony Salamone wrote a report published this year that claimed Scotland could join within five years of becoming an independent country.
It explains: “Scotland was previously part of the European Union for nearly five decades.
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“On that basis alone, the Scottish economy is manifestly capable of forming part of the Union economy and responding sufficiently to its associated demands and forces.
“The Republic will therefore be in an extremely strong position to satisfy the economic criteria of the Copenhagen criteria.”
But it also adds any membership to the EU is likely to spark a border between England and Scotland.
Mr Salamone says it would be “unfortunate” but also claims it would be “manageable”.
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