Scotland’s Referendum and Caribbean Implications

Saltire and union flag

David Jessop (Director of the Caribbean Council) analyzes Scotland’s upcoming referendum and its implications for the Caribbean and beyond. See excerpts here:

Forget the movie Braveheart and the passion and nationalism associated with the long-standing desire by many Scots for independence from the English. On 18 September, something real and significant will take place in Scotland that could change the nature of United Kingdom and alter Britain’s place in the world. That is the date on which there will be a referendum on Scottish independence which, if the Scottish National Party (SNP) and others who are promoting the yes vote were to prevail, could raise some interesting and even difficult questions for the Caribbean.

For example, if the Scots were to vote yes to independence it would also undoubtedly diminish London’s role and influence in Europe, weaken the UK’s relationship with Washington, and by extension in both cases, affect the positive approach to the Caribbean that the UK encourages on both sides of the Atlantic.

Small nation status

While a yes vote would undoubtedly require the Caribbean to assess how it should relate to an Independent Scotland and a smaller United Kingdom, it may also offer new opportunity, given the many Caribbean-relevant small nation aspects of Scotland’s economic approach. Some of the wider implications of a changed Scotland are only just starting to become apparent.

For instance, in the last week the international dimension took on greater prominence when the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, suggested that any new EU state coming out of a current member state will have to apply to accede to the European Union and its entry will have to be approved by all. [. . .]

Caribbean implications

[. . .] That said, for the Caribbean, from a positive perspective, Scotland could represent an interesting future partner. It has a population of around five million and although much wealthier than almost all Caribbean nations it has interesting similarities to the region in that it relies heavily on tourism, financial services and exports of alcohol (whisky) as well as on oil and gas, offshore services and life sciences. It has an outward looking policy that supports Scottish business seeking to trade abroad, promotes foreign investment and defends its interests in Brussels.

The Scottish Diaspora

[. . .] Less positively, a yes vote for Scottish independence  raises all sorts of issues no one has yet addressed in a Caribbean context from its murky past in relation to slavery or how independence will  diminish the role of ‘Caribbean marginal seats’ and political influence in England. That said the Scottish National Party has created a close to sovereign identity for Scotland in the world that has resonance with Caribbean thinking; one that suggests an interesting model for nations in a region that seem unclear about where they are seeking to position themselves and their economic interests. [. . .]

For full article, see

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