Should Scotland become independent?
Polls suggest support for independence is rising in Scotland. Whereas the region voted 55-45 percent against secession in 2014, now the separatists have a 1- to 7-point lead.
The reason is Brexit.
I sympathize with the Scots. I think Brexit is a reactionary cause, premised on the fantasy that Britain will be better off alone than together with its allies and friends in Europe. Most Scots are liberal, progressive and social democratic. They may feel more at home in Europe than in the United Kingdom.
But, I write at the Atlantic Sentinel, Scotland is also still more integrated with England and the other countries of the UK than with continental Europe. Secession could be costly.
- Two-thirds of Scotland's non-oil exports go the the rest of the UK. Just 16 percent of its exports go to the EU.
- The Scottish governments spends £1,200 more per resident per year than the rest of the UK but taxes £400 less per person. The British government makes up much of the difference. Without that subsidy, Scotland would need to either cut public spending or raise taxes — or more likely both.
- An independent Scotland's defense would amount to little.
- The process of joining the EU as an independent nation could take several years. Scotland would need to adopt the euro.
- Rejoining NATO could be quicker, since there are fewer conditions and the alliance needs Scotland to be able to close the GIUK gap. But there would still be a period during which Scotland would be formally without allies.
Is it worth the risk? Are there factors I've overlooked that argue for independence?