CLAIMS that an independent Scotland could result in border controls with England have been described as “spurious” by a South of Scotland MSP, writes Kenny Paterson.
Former chancellor Alistair Darling MP, leader of the Better Together campaign, said border controls would depend on whether Scotland was admitted to the European Union, and if an independent country introduced different immigration and asylum rules to England and the rest of the UK.
“I can’t see the benefit of that,” said Mr Darling, responding to a question from TheSouthern in a webchat organised by sister paper The Scotsman.
“Scotland is part of one of the oldest political and economic unions in the world. I want to break down barriers between countries, not put them up.”
However, Paul Wheelhouse of the SNP said Mr Darling’s assumption that an independent Scotland would not be part of the European Union was an attempt to “scare the horses”.
He pointed out the views of Professor Graham Avery of Oxford University, who believes that the EU would likely negotiate the terms of membership in the time between the referendum and planned date of independence.
Mr Wheelhouse told TheSouthern: “The SNP does not advocate physical border controls on the border with England and our policy is to continue to operate the Common Travel Area within the British Isles, as is agreed between the UK and the Republic of Ireland already.
“I see absolutely no need for the likes of Mr Darling to create unwarranted worry for the people of Scotland.”
Mr Wheelhouse previously clashed with fellow Borders MSP John Lamont over the border control issue, when the Conservative said independence would severely restrict the ability of Borderers to work and shop in England.
Mr Wheelhouse added this week: “Is it not time Mr Darling and his colleagues actually contributed something positive and useful to the independence debate, in terms of explaining what they will do in the event of a ‘No’ vote, rather than indulge in scaremongering? I look forward to playing my own part in setting out a detailed prospectus for an independent Scotland later this year and to campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote, precisely because of the positive benefits I believe that such a decision will achieve for the people of Scotland.”