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Panel Seeks Clarity on Scotland’s Foreign Policy

Panel Calls for Clarity on Independent Scotland’s Foreign Policy
A supporter of Scottish Independence displays the Saltire flag, the national flag of Scotland in Edinburgh. Backing for independence fell to 30 percent of respondents between March 20 and April 2 from 33 percent in February, a survey found. Photographer: Mike Wilkinson/Bloomberg

May 1 (Bloomberg) -- Scottish nationalists pushing for independence in a referendum next year need to clarify their foreign-policy plans, a panel of U.K. lawmakers said.

The Scottish National Party government in Edinburgh has not thoroughly analyzed the diplomatic and external-security networks Scotland would need and assumes other nations would help it out if it ran into difficulties on international relations, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said in a report published in London.

“There are some quite worrying gaps in the Scottish government’s foreign-policy vision and certain assumptions are being made which don’t seem to be based on concrete evidence,” the committee chairman, Richard Ottaway from U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, said in an e-mailed statement today. “No one is doubting that Scotland could be a fully fledged member of the international community, but there is a real and urgent need for more information about the risks and costs involved.”

The Scottish government should take advice on a range of international legal positions, including membership of the European Union, opt-outs from international agreements and membership in international bodies, the committee said. Joining the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization would not necessarily be straightforward, it said.

“There is a pressing need for more clarity and more candor about what Scots would lose and what the Scottish government could realistically deliver in foreign-policy terms with the resources available to it,” the panel said. “As the Edinburgh Agreement makes clear, Scots will hold their destiny in their own hands in September 2014. It is Scotland’s decision to make, no one else’s. The Scottish people do, however, have a right to have the full facts, not just aspirational policies, at their disposal before they make that decision.”

Backing for independence fell to 30 percent of respondents between March 20 and April 2 from 33 percent in February, a TNS BMRB survey found. Those in favor of remaining part of the U.K. dropped one percentage point to 51 percent. The number of people saying they don’t know how they will vote rose to 19 percent from 15 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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