James Forsyth

Salmond’s biggest myth

Salmond's biggest myth
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When I asked one leading SNP figure right at the start of this process how they would try and win this referendum, he told me that by the end of the campaign you’d barely be able to tell the difference between, what he called, independence-lite and devo max. This is why Salmond has put such emphasis on keeping the Queen as head of state, still using the pound and the idea that there won’t be any borders controls or customs posts.

Now, with the exception of the Queen remaining head of state these are distinctly dubious propositions. Scotland might choose to use the pound but, given that there isn’t going to be a currency union, it would be doing so in just the way that Panama uses the US dollar. In other words, simply using a foreign country’s currency as its own.

Equally, there will be border posts—and possibly, customs houses too. If Scotland joins Schengen, as all new EU members are required to, there will have to be full Schengen checks at the border. Even if the other EU states are prepared to give Scotland an opt-out from this, there will still have to be border posts if Scotland’s immigration policy is different from rUK’s as the Scottish Government White Paper suggests it will be.

If Scotland hasn’t joined the EU before becoming independent, something that is highly likely given the Spanish Prime Minister’s comments this morning, there will have to be tariffs on Scottish goods entering rUK too.

Perhaps, the biggest myth that Salmond has been peddling in this campaign is that independence wouldn’t change the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK that much. For it would change it fundamentally and forever: Scotland would be a foreign country. There is, however hard Salmond tries, simply no getting around that.