THE Scottish Government’s 650-page White Paper on Independence, published in late 2013, contained just eight pages on “Scotland in the European Union”, a sign that Brexit was yet to be taken seriously by either side of the constitutional debate.

The paper assumed the UK would still be part of the EU when Scotland became independent.

Although it flagged up the idea of Brexit, noting an in-out referendum was expected in 2017, there was no discussion of its implications, only the statement that independence offered a way to avoid “being taken out of the EU against our will”.

The prospectus assumed, again perfectly reasonably for the time, that an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK would be in the EU single market and customs union, with continued free trade across the Anglo-Scottish border.

HeraldScotland: Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon at the launch of the White Paper on independence Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon at the launch of the White Paper on independence


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The paper also said that Scotland would not have to apply to join the EU as an outside country, but would enjoy a “smooth and timely transition to independent membership of the EU” based on the principle of “continuity of effect”, as it was already inside it.

The paper said this membership process would be achieved in the 18 months after a Yes vote, while Scotland was “still part of the UK and, therefore, part of the EU”.

The paper did not propose a referendum on EU membership.

It said Scotland would retain the pound and not adopt the Euro.

Some key White Paper quotes: 

● It is the current Scottish Government’s policy that Scotland remains part of the European Union. Between a Yes vote in 2014 and independence day, Scotland will agree the terms of our continuing membership of the EU. This will happen while we are still part of the UK and part of the EU, ensuring a smooth transition to independent membership.

● The advantage of independence is that the people of Scotland will have the sole and final say. We will not be taken out of the EU against our wishes as may turn out to be the case if we are not independent.

● An independent Scottish Government will, for the first time, be able to promote Scottish economic interests directly, protect Scottish citizens and participate on equal terms as all other member states in EU affairs.

●The Scottish Government does not wish Scotland to leave the EU and does not support the Prime Minister’s plans to hold an in-out referendum on EU membership.

● Following a vote for independence, Scotland will become an independent EU member state before the planned in-out referendum on the EU in 2017. However, if we do not become independent, we risk being taken out of the EU against our will.