In the reaction to the White Paper, I’ve seen three serious objections raised. It can sometimes be difficult to spot the arguments that matter, because so many of the objections have been silly. There are not going to be guards with dogs patrolling the border, people in Scotland can’t be stopped from using the pound any more than they can be stopped from using the dollar or the Euro if they choose, and there is no obvious reason why people in Scotland shouldn’t have the same ability to see Doctor Who that people in Belgium have at present.
The first serious objection comes from Alastair Darling. It is that an independent Scotland will have to budget for a National Debt, and that even if the amount is currently indeterminate and subject to negotiation it has to be counted in the public finances. Part of the point of becoming independent is that Scotland will be seeking to raise finance through its own bonds, and that too has to be budgeted for.
The second serious objection comes from the European Union. Although I think their legal position is questionable, both the Commission and the government of Spain have now raised objections to easing Scotland’s entry. This will have to be the subject of negotiations but there is an immediate cause of action to be considered by the European Court of Justice: it is whether European Citizens (for everyone in Scotland is a citizen of the European Union as well as of the United Kingdom) can legally be stripped of their citizenship, and the protections that implies. That needs to be resolved by the Court as a matter of urgency.
The third objection has been expressed by economist Yanis Varoufakis. He argues that the Scottish Government’s caution has led them astray. Asking to be part of a monetary union means that Scotland will be subject to the disciplines imposed by the bodies that manage sterling without having any effective power to decide what those disciplines are – precisely the situation that Greece has found itself in, in the Euro zone. This is the worst possible option for economic management. The way out is for Scotland to have its own currency, or if it uses sterling, at least its own economic policy.