Better Together politicians have frequently argued that the rUK will be the successor state, inheriting the EU membership terms and the permanent seat on the UN’s Security Council as well as numerous other tangible and intangible assets, while Scotland will be a new state that will inherit very little apart from its population share of the national debt.
Now Matt Qvortrup has made a very interesting intervention in the debate:
Dr Qvortrup’s explosive findings are published in a report that looks at national divorces dating from 1830, when Belgium left the Netherlands, until the break-up of Yugoslavia and the collapse of the Soviet Union in the Nineties.
His research found countries that split equally have historically shared the debts built up during their union. But if one partner continues as before as the ‘successor state’ — keeping its position on international bodies such as the United Nations — it shoulders the debts.
He said: “If Alex Salmond doesn’t want to share the debt and is happy to reapply to Europe, the default position in international law is that Scotland would not have to pick up the debt.
“If you want to be the EU successor state and be in the UN Security Council, you can. You take all the spoils — but you also take the baggage.”
This seems perfectly clear and straightforward to me. Although I have recently argued that there are very few questions that need answered at this stage, Westminster really need to tell the voters before the referendum which of these two options they will be opting for.