Scottish independence: confusion over EU membership

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Pro-Union 'scaremongering' or 'deeply embarrassing' for SNP? EU president causes a stir

LAST UPDATED AT 11:30 ON Wed 16 Jul 2014

The new European Commission president has sparked a fresh row between pro and anti-independence campaigns by apparently suggesting that a newly independent Scotland could not expect swift readmittance to the EU.

Jean-Claude Juncker insisted that no new country would be allowed to join the EU for the next five years. "The EU needs to mark a pause in its enlargement process so that we can consolidate what has been done with 28 members," he told MEPs yesterday.

However, Juncker's spokeswoman later told the BBC that any application by a future independent Scotland was a "separate issue".

She said Juncker's comments applied to countries such as Iceland, Serbia and Turkey who were already in the process of applying for EU membership and that Scotland was only a "hypothetical" issue.

By then the No campaign had already seized upon Juncker's comments, describing them as a "further impediment" to an independent Scotland's entry into the EU, writes the BBC's Scottish political editor Brian Taylor.

The Telegraph's Scottish political editor Simon Johnson described Juncker's comments as "deeply embarrassing" for the nationalists.

"Being outside the EU for five years would put thousands of Scottish jobs, exports and businesses at risk," said Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary.

But nationalists argue that a separate arrangements could allow an independent Scotland to re-join the EU within 18 months. They accuse the Better Together campaign of "distorting" Junker's remarks and "scaremongering" in order to further their agenda.

Better Together said Juncker's clarification still left doubt about the status of an independent Scotland.

"As President Juncker has made perfectly clear, if we leave the UK, we would then have to start the application process to join,' a spokesperson said. "How long that process would take and what conditions would be attached is anyone's guess."

Scottish independence: Salmond and Darling set date for debate

11 July

A date has finally been set for a television debate on Scottish independence between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, reports The Guardian.

Following weeks of wrangling between the rivals in the Scottish referendum campaign, the two-hour debate will take place on 5 August at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, in Glasgow, in front of an audience of 350 members of the public. It will be broadcast live on STV.

The debate had originally been scheduled for July 16, but it was cancelled when Salmond refused to participate unless his opponent was David Cameron.

When the later date was suggested, Salmond swiftly agreed but Darling's camp initially refused to take part, apparently in protest at STV's capitulation to the first minister¹s demands.

After STV confirmed the date last night, a spokesperson for Salmond said that the first minister is "delighted" that Darling has "finally" accepted the invitation.

Striking a pre-fight tone early on, the spokesperson added: "Mr Darling will be acting as a shield for the prime minister ­ who we will continue to pursue for a debate ­ and as such he will be defending the Tory policies of David Cameron's government."

But a spokesperson for the pro-union Better Together campaign countered: "Alex Salmond will now finally have to answer questions on the pound, pensions and public services that he has spent the last two years dodging."

Meanwhile, The Herald reports that Darling has accepted a BBC bid for a live debate in Inverness on August 12. The proposal is being considered by Salmond. 


Scottish Independence: surge in donations for 'No' campaign  

10 July

Campaigners calling for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom are well ahead of the pro-independence movement in terms of financial donations, according to the latest report on campaign funds released by the Electoral Commission. 

It shows that the 'No' campaign received more than double the amount of donations given to pro-independence campaign groups between December 2013 and June 2014.

But with the vote looming, a row over the figures has blown up with the pro-Union group, Better Together, accusing Yes Scotland of running front organisations to side-step funding rules, an allegation it denies.

The allegations raise questions around donations and campaign spending and how they are controlled.

How much have the parties received?
  • The Better together campaign declared just over £2.4m in donations
  • The Yes Scotland campaign received £1.16m
Who are the biggest donors?

Yes Scotland has accused the Better Together campaign of being funded by bankers and wealthy conservatives, most of who live outside of Scotland.

Major donations to the 'Yes' campaign:

  • Euromillions lottery winners Chris and Colin Weir gave half-a-million pounds each
  • Stagecoach boss Sir Brian Souter donated £200,000

Major donations to the 'No' campaign:

  • JK Rowling donated £1m
  • Major whisky distiller William Grant and Sons donated a "substantial sum"
  • Crime writer CJ Samson gave £200,000
  • £100,000 was given by stockbroker and Tory backer Andrew Fraser
  • £50,000 was received from Ivor Dunbar, former Deutsche Bank co-head.
How long do the campaigns have to spend the money?

Campaigners are only allowed to spend the funds raised during the 'referendum period'. The formal 'referendum period', set out by the Scottish government's Referendum Act, began on 30 May and will continue until the end of polling when Scotland votes on 18 September.

What are the spending limits and rules?

According to the UK's Electoral Commission, designated lead campaigns, in this case Better Together and Yes Scotland, have a spending limit of £1.5m. Smaller registered campaign groups such as Christians for Independence and the No Borders campaign have a limit of £150,000.

"Organisations can work together", reports the BBC's Scotland political editor Brian Taylor. "But, if they do so, this can have an effect on the money they can spend." If smaller organisations work under a designated lead campaign, the spending must come off the £1.5m spending total for that group.

The spending limits for Scottish political parties are based on their share of the votes in the 2011 election:

  • Scottish National Party - £1,344,000
  • Labour Party - £831,000
  • Conservative & Unionist Party - £399,000
  • Liberal Democrats - £204,000
  • Green Party - £150,000
Why are there limits?

The commission imposes limits, or what it calls "essentially a 'level ceiling'" which is used to deter excessive spending, rather than to ensure equal spending power.

What happens if the rules are broken?

Exceeding election spending limits is a criminal offence and the commission is also able to impose civil sanctions, explains the BBC.

What happens if the campaigns have funds left over after the referendum?

According to Electoral Commission, there are "no rules" for campaigners that have left over funds after 18 September. However, if the funds are given to a political party and above the £7,500 threshold, the political party would have to report that to the commission.


Scottish independence: PM urges Scotland's 'silent majority' to say no

3 July

David Cameron will today make another intervention in the Scottish independence referendum debate, telling the "silent majority" of Scots to speak out in favour of a 'no' vote, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Speaking to business leaders and party activists, he will also accuse Scotland’s SNP leadership of using "threats" to silence Scots business people who are opposed to independence.

The latest YouGov poll says that of voters who have made up their minds 61% are opposed to independence. Cameron will say tomorrow: "We’ve heard the noise of the nationalist few, but now it is time for the voices of the silent majority to be heard.

"The silent majority who feel happy being part of the UK; the silent majority who don't want the risks of going it alone; the silent majority who worry about what separation would mean for their children and grandchildren.

"With 77 days to go, we need the voices of the many to ring out across the land. For each one to realise that they are not alone because there are millions just like them."

Speaking in parliament yesterday, Cameron said Alex Salmond’s Scottish government was using "threats and warnings" to exert "a huge amount of pressure" on business people, stopping them from speaking out against separating from the UK.

He said: "I come across business leader after business leader, large and small in Scotland, who want to keep our United Kingdom together and think it would be crazy to have border controls, different currencies and split up our successful United Kingdom."

The Telegraph says one Scottish businessman, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp – chief executive of a pro-Independence group, Business for Scotland – refuted Cameron’s claims, saying business people across Scotland are already "speaking up" and "don’t feel at all intimidated".

More on Scottish independence:

Scottish independence: the pros and cons of going it alone What would it cost to divide the UK? Standard Life warns it could quit an independent Scotland Cameron and Salmond to hold rival North Sea oil meetings David Bowie spots the danger: Scots' Yes vote gathers strength BoE's Mark Carney wades into Scottish independence debate PM invokes spirit of Team GB to fight Scottish independence Salmond: end of Scottish pound would cost UK £500m Scottish independence: Osborne rules out currency union


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To those who wish for a "YES" vote next September, let me make a suggestion from south of the border.

Why not have every Scottish cinema arrange to offer a special season of stirring Scottish movies - like "Braveheart" "Highlander" "Rob Roy" "Brave" etc., etc,... for 6 months or so leading up to the vote...???

You got a problem? Sounds like you're spitting the dummy out ...

I'm sure there'll be plenty of patriotic feeling as it is. Especially with the commonwealth games happening.

I'd rather see every theatre, lecture hall, arena etc in the country rented out and hosting a debate on independence. Each event can have a panel made of of Yes Scotland, Better Together and local politicians split 50/50. Plus a key note speech from a high profile YES and NO advocate. Have an extensive Q&A.

Everyone should have the chance to take part in this debate and it should be based on intellectual thought.

Not a very well researched article and it's fairly one sided towards NO. You don't even get the spending figures right but I suppose when you use the Torygraph as source what can one expect.

Stupid comment.

The last paragraph says it all realy.
Why should Scots feel bad the so called democratic defesit that SOME English feel because of devolution when Scotland had NO voice for 300 years?
Also it's an English problem not a Scottish one.
remember the "feable 50"?

"Torylaugh" - not "Torygraph"!


I wish the question would be this simple in my native Province of Quebec. "Should Quebec become an independent country?" But don't bet on it!

At the risk of chucking some history into the equation....
Scotland did not become part of he United Kingdom; England and Scotland formed the United Kingdom.
It is - to say the least - highly questionable to assert that Scotland gets more out of the Union than she puts in. The Barnett Formula does not give Scotland a higher share of public spending, just a higher share of certain parts (about half) of public sending, however she gets very little from the other half. The south-east, OTH, does very well indeed in the way of public spending that does not have a Barnett dimension - Channel Tunnel, Thames Barrier, renovating the underground, the M25 to name but a few....the oil revenues have been spent on projects that have benefited the whole country from Watford in the north to Guildford in the south. and a disproportionate share of 'national' government departments which helps to fuel escalating property prices.
Scotland has no clout at all in the EU.
Defence...Scotland's defence needs are trivial compared to the share of Scottish revenue spent on UK vanity armament programmes and foreign intervention.

It is the ignorance of those 'south of the border' that makes independence more appealing day by day. It is often like talking to an American when you talk to an English person. So full of propaganda it renders them politically mute. They resort to the nonsense you have just read from the ironically named TruthBeatsLies. What has happened to Portsmouth ? Royal naval vessels will be built in Scotland. If Scotland becomes independent, this will mean that they will be built in a foreign country. Is this good for Scotland ? Is it good for the remnants of the UK ? Independence is not about patriotism. It is political (shameful that this has to be pointed out). The majority of the population of Scotland are lowlanders.

Unfortunately, very few people (anywhere in the world) have the knowledge to make such a decision on the future of a nation. We are misinformed, ill-informed, and disinformed, and we make our decision based on this 'information'. If the politicians are unable to provide us with accurate information on what independence means, then what chance does the plebeian have ? Alas, our ignorant masses will have their say next year. Heads or tails.


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