Readers cannot have failed to notice the extensive coverage devoted to whether Scotland will automatically become an EU member state on independence or not.
During the last few months the media north of the border has largely focused on this debate through a Scottish prism.
Will an independent Scotland automatically be an EU member, or will it have to reapply for membership? Both sides have naturally wheeled out experts to support their case.
However, south of the border, Prime Minister David Cameron is under extreme pressure from his largely Eurosceptic backbenchers, reinforced with election successes for UKIP, to call an EU “in-out” referendum following the next UK general election, in 2015.
Given the likelihood that the UK will vote to leave, with polling consistently showing this over the years, we could have the ironic situation of an independent Scotland as a member of the EU in 2016, with the remainder of the UK negotiating an exit.
It would be interesting, as an aside, to see what contingencies the UK Government has in place for this eventuality.
We in Scotland have never had a national debate on our future relationship with the EU since the 1975 referendum. My belief is that Scotland should be a full member of the European Union, but that does not mean that that debate should not be had and various options proposed, be it membership of the European Economic Area, European Free Trade Association, or none of the above.
The greatest threat to Scotland’s membership of the EU is the UK Government, but it would be grossly unfair for the rest of the UK to be offered a referendum on its relationship with the European Union, when we in Scotland may not be offered the same.
The decision as to Scotland’s position with regard to the EU if there is a Yes vote in the independence referendum is likely to be a political, not a legal one.
At the moment Scotland is one of 97 regions and cities that make up the European Union of the Regions and Cities. That is its full title which makes clear the ultimate aim is to abolish national governments and rule the regions and cities from Brussels.
First Minister Alex Salmond could find that the Brussels hierarchy will see his application to join as the perfect opportunity to put the first building block of their dream in place. Free from Westminster, he could find himself in charge of a region controlled by Brussels.
The Treaty of Rome clearly states that all natural resources are to belong to the EU, so Scotland could forget any long-term benefit from oil and gas, or any attempt to regenerate our fishing industry.
As for nuclear weapons, Brussels would decide whether they could be kept or removed.
I am sure Alex Salmond has not for one minute imagined the scenario I have described, but it is a definite possibility.
William W. Scott
St Baldred’s Road