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Scottish Independence

A Practical Guide

Jo E. Murkens, Peter Jones, Michael Keating

Paperback (Print on demand)

How might Scotland achieve independence? And what would be the consequences, for Scotland and the rest of the UK? Independence is ever-present on the Scottish political agenda. This book is the first serious study of the likely road to independence, and the consequences for the Scottish people and the Scottish economy. Scottish Independence starts with a detailed guide to the stages along the route to independence and goes on to analyse the legal, political and economic consequences. It asks key questions:

  • If Scots vote for an SNP government in Edinburgh, how will that government deliver its manifesto promise of achieving independence in Scotland?
  • If the Scots attain independence, what will change? What will Scotland's place be in the world? Can Scotland remain in the EU?
  • What are the economics of independence? Would there be a flight of capital and a stock-market fall? How much economic freedom would an independent Scotland have?
  • How much would change in the daily lives of Scots as a result of independence? How much autonomy would Scotland have as a small independent state in Europe?

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Part 1: The Road to Independence
1. Preliminary Issues
(i) Does Scotland have a right to be independent?
(ii) Does the Scottish Parliament have the power to hold an independent referendum?
(iii) What constitutes a mandate for independence?
(iv) UK reaction
2. The Process and the Referendums
(i) Parliamentary sovereignty
(ii) Not a political panacea
(iii) The framework
(iv) The electoral commission
(v) Legislation
3. The Practice of Referendums
(i) The electorate
(ii) Thresholds
(iii) The question
(iv) The campaign
4. The Negotiations
(i) Who negotiates for each side?
(ii) The contents of negotiation
(iii) Speed of the transition
Part 2: Post-Independence Myths and Realities
5. What Confers Statehood?
(i) State succession
(ii) Dissolution and the recognition of statehood
6. Scotland in Europe
(i) The EU treaty and succession
(ii) Background of the Vienna Convention on state succession in respect of treatise
(iii) Relevance to the EU treaty
(iv) Application of EU law in an independent Scotland without succession
(v) Worst case scenario
(vi) The political knock-on effects
(vii) Scotland and the EEA/EFTA
7. Greenland and Germany: Lessens for Scotland?
(i) The Greenland case
(ii) German reunification
8. Accession to the European Union
(i) Requirements
(ii) The process
(iii) Effectiveness of Scottish representation
9. Scotland in the World
(i) The rules for State succession to treaties
(ii) International organisations (The UN and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank)
10. The Economics of Independence
11. Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom
(i) Citizenship Options
(ii) Would Scots be able to receive free treatment on the NHS after independence?
(iii) Social Security

About the Author

Jo E. Murkens is a Lecturer in Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Peter Jones is the Scotland and Northern England Correspondent for The Economist

Michael Keating is Professor of Politics at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an Academician of the Social Sciences. He has published extensively on European politics, nationalism and regionalism.


Commonly, Scottish independence is judged in very general terms as to whether it is desirable. This book deliberately sets that aside - and, from a politically neutral standpoint, asks all the other detailed questions: how independence might be achieved, legally, constitutionally and financially; what would be the constraints and hurdles to overcome; what would be the international implications. It is to be commended for its thoroughness and clarity - and for its contribution to the debate over Scotland’s future.

- Brian Taylor, Political Editor, BBC Scotland
How might Scotland achieve independence? What would be the consequences for the people and the economy? This is a serious study of these crucial issues and it analyses the legal and political consequences. Civil servants, journalists, politicians and academics will be particularly interested.
The authors are to be commended … every pertinent question relating to how Scotland might achieve independence is addressed … it really does carefully examine every possible consequence … the book is also 'practical'. Complex discussions are neatly summarised in bullet points and there is a liberal use of subheadings, making the mountain of information far easier to read and digest … thorough, well-written and an interesting read.
This buik is a douce, plain-speakin wark and will airm the reader wi aw the facts necessar tae the threaps an conter airguments. Awbodie wi an intress in a freestaunin Scotland shuid hae a guid, lang read afore ettlin tae haud furth on the subjeck.
This is an important and timely contribution to the ongoing debate on Scotland’s constitutional status. There is much in this book that will please but also irritate people holding different political views. Its greatest value is in its contribution to serious debate. Politicians will gut it for evidence and quotes to sustain these differing views - testimony to its importance. Anyone interested in Scotland’s future should read it first hand.
- Professor James Mitchell, University of Strathclyde