Torcuil Crichton 12 Feb 2013 00:01
Legal expert says Scotland could become an independent country within 18 months of yes vote
THE legal expert, hired by the UK Government to prove the split would be a lengthy affair, ended up backing the SNP's claim that all deals could be completed within 18 months.
SCOTLAND could set itself up as an independent country within 18 months of a yes vote.
That’s according to the legal expert hired by the UK Government to say breaking up would be a complicated and lengthy affair.
In a major blunder yesterday, Professor James Crawford said he agreed with the SNP that negotiating all the deals could be done in a year and a half.
The Cambridge academic was hired by David Cameron to write a 58-page report. It concluded Scotland would have to start again as a new state if there was separation in 2014.
The document, by Crawford and Alan Boyle, of Edinburgh University, was designed as the first of series of body blows to Alex Salmond’s claims Scotland would automatically inherit international treaties on an equal basis with the UK.
The paper was launched in Edinburgh yesterday by Scottish Secretary Michael Moore.
But it crashed on take-off when Crawford was interviewed on Radio Scotland.
Asked if signing or renegotiating thousands of treaties that applied to the UK would be a major headache for a new country, Crawford said: “The Scottish estimate is about 18 months and that seems realistic.”
He emphasised his analysis did not mean that Scotland’s accession to international organisations would be difficult.
He said: “UN membership will be straightforward. In the case of the EU, there are things to negotiate, such as the British opt-out and financial contributions. Those aren’t automatic.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described Crawford’s remarks as “helpful”.
She said the legal argument did not back up the UK Government’s political argument.
Sturgeon dismissed the UK Government’s analysis as “incredibly arrogant”.
She said: “Somehow they keep all the rights of the UK and Scotland gets nothing?”