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The Starter’s Guide to Running a Newly Independent Nation

In the event of a “Yes” vote, the uncoupling process between Scotland and the UK will mean huge shifts with regard to energy, finance, and diplomacy.

On September 18, Scottish residents will head to the polls to decide on the future of their country. The question they must answer: 

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

If the “Yes” coalition emerges victorious, a process of very complicated uncoupling with need to be planned and executed. The Economist, which has come out in support of maintaining the current union, has published an explanatory piece detailing what Scotland’s initial concerns will be in the event of independence. It’s something of a “Nation Building 101,” which means that even though the article is focused on Scotland, its ideas are universal. Here’s a basic summary:

1. Finance: This is perhaps the biggest issue for which no one yet has a concrete answer. Will Scotland be able to retain the pound? The Scotland National Party (SNP) says, “of course!” Westminster says, “not so fast.” If the pound is discontinued, will Scotland have to mint its own new currency? Quickly incorporate the euro? So much of this is still up in the air. An independent Scotland’s first priority has to be getting its wallet in order.

2. Energy: The author of the Economist article explains that the utilities shared by Scotland and the rest of Great Britain would be nearly impossible to unwind, which means a joint partnership would need to be established for their management. There’s also the difficult question of how oil reserves would be split, never a fun conversation to have with your ex.

3. Government and Diplomacy: A new nation needs someone to run it. The SNP says Scotland would remain in the Commonwealth of Nations and maintain Queen Elizabeth as the head of state. But how much pull would London really maintain in Edinburgh? There are many routes that could be taken.

The Economist also does a good job of explaining current plans with regard to conferring citizenship and issuing passports, but questions still exist about establishing embassies, installing diplomats, incorporating a new postal service, and disassociating intelligence/espionage with the UK.

4. The UN: Finally, Scotland would need to secure swift admittance to the United Nations for the purpose of obtaining an international phone code, internet domain, and postcode. Again, establishing diplomacy would be complicated with so many Scots currently serving as UK diplomats.

Imagining such a scenario is both exciting and frightening. If the Scots vote “Yes,” it means they’re putting a lot of faith in the SNP’s ambition but also taking a bold step forward toward securing their own destiny. If the Scots vote “No,” they maintain a union that, for the most part, has worked pretty well during the past few centuries.

Any country or faction thinking of going solo would need to address the above concerns quickly upon achieving its independence.

Read more at The Economist

Photo credit: astudio / Shutterstock


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