It is a curious thing that so many opponents of Scottish independence are so eager to proclaim that an independent Scotland would be denied membership of the European Union. It is particularly bizarre when it comes from fervently pro-EU types such as the Liberal Democrats.
It is perfectly legitimate to question how quickly Scotland might be able to join the EU and/or to question what terms of membership we might obtain. The assertions of the Yes campaign in 2014 did indeed minimize the challenges. But the British nationalists go far beyond this and insist poor Scotland “would not be allowed.”
This is psychologically revealing. It plays on a troubled aspect of the Scottish cringe which fears we are not good enough. That if we make public that we have aspirations we will be cut down to size and embarrassed.
The fact that the EU is an expansionist organization that welcomes members who meet their criteria, and that Scotland already meets those criteria, does not impinge on the fevered warnings of the unionists. The poor Liberal Democrats simultaneously hold both to the view that the EU is a good thing we should be a member of, and that the EU would reject Scotland out of malice. It is similar in some ways to the unionists who insist we are better run from benevolent Westminster, but that Westminster will treat us with hostile fury if we exercise self-determination.
In these turbulent times it is hard to make predictions with any certainty, but it is highly likely that if Scotland votes for independence before Brexit is implemented then the EU would agree a transitional arrangement to enable continued access and rights for those living in Scotland pending a negotiated accession process. We should not underestimate the positive feeling for Scotland across the EU at the moment. It will not be a totally smooth process, but then we face huge disruption because of Brexit anyway, the real question is how best can we mitigate the damage.