Press release

Foreign Secretary statement on Foreign Policy implications of an independent Scotland

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Foreign Secretary responds to Foreign Affairs Committee Report on foreign policy considerations of an independent Scotland.

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The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said:

The UK Government position is clear: Scotland benefits from being part of the UK, and the UK benefits from having Scotland within it. The UK firmly believes it is for people in Scotland to decide their own future, and we will play our part in delivering a legal, fair and decisive referendum in Scotland and keeping international partners informed.

My response to the Committee’s report highlights the benefits Scotland gains from being part of the UK. In its negotiations, the UK has secured key victories – from fisheries reform to securing contracts for Scottish firms – on issues which have a positive impact on people and businesses in Scotland. It is hard to see how an independent Scotland would have more influence by itself.

Scotland benefits from being part of a large, established EU Member State with considerable international influence, a far-reaching diplomatic and trade network – and, crucially, some of the most inclusive arrangements in Europe which allow the Scottish Government a significant role in decision-making.

I am proud of the approach the UK is taking to the Scottish referendum. It is an opportunity to show to the world our collective and peaceful democracy in action.

The Committee’s report contained two direct recommendations for the UK Government, which have been considered fully in this response, and reiterated what many others have been saying for some time - the Scottish Government still need to set out clearly what the key elements of their foreign policy would be, how they intend to establish it and at what cost to the Scottish taxpayer.

The Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore, said:

Leaving the UK would involve significant and irreversible changes to the daily lives of people in Scotland. Our foreign reach, advantages from a highly-developed diplomatic network, consular assistance, and places at the world’s top tables would all have to be built from the ground up in a separate Scotland. That has far-reaching implications and there is no avoiding some of the difficult practical issues which come alongside independence.

Scotland in the UK has access and influence throughout the world, from soft power to the promotion of trade and the opening up of new markets for Scottish companies through the embassy network and UKTI. At the same time people throughout the UK are protected by the constant vigilance and work of our security services.

There is no doubt being part of the UK provides an incredible platform from which Scotland can do more, go further and aim higher in the wider world. The real effects of walking away from this unique global advantage need to be fully explained to people in Scotland as they make their decisions about our country’s future.

We know there is a lack of detail and answers from those who support independence on these and other important issues. People in Scotland need to know exactly what leaving the UK means – and part of that would be swapping our collective strength in the UK for an uncertain alternative as a separate country.

Further information

The referendum will take place in Scotland on 18 September 2014.

The Foreign Affairs Committee took evidence from 26 witnesses, with EU and international expertise. Mr Lidington, Minister for Europe gave evidence to the Committee in Edinburgh on 28 January 2013.

The Foreign Affairs Committee report was published on 1 May 2013, and contained two recommendations for the FCO:

  • Ahead of the referendum, the Foreign Office should do more, where appropriate, to engage with international partners in order to highlight the UK’s commitment to a consensual and broad-based engagement on the Scottish referendum, with a view to minimising the risk of damage to the UK’s reputation.

  • The FCO in its response to the FAC report to outline its view on Scottish interests being given a more direct voice on certain EU issues, within the parameter of the current devolution settlement.

Read the full text of the Foreign Affairs Committee report

The Foreign Secretary published his reply to the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) report into “The foreign policy implications for the UK and Scotland in the event of Scotland becoming an independent country” on 1 July 2013. Read the full text of the FCO response

Published 1 July 2013