The nations of the UK are independent nations that share resources with each other, and sometimes a feeling of oneness and fraternity is seen among the good people of that land. Emotions are subjective. Would the rest of the UK have anything "real" to lose if Scotland exits the UK?

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    – CDJB
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 9:47

7 Answers 7


The Scottish government's 2013 white paper on independence - Scotland's Future - sets out a number of tangible assets that, the paper argues, Scotland would be entitled to a proportion of based on population share. For example, an independent Scotland would seek to take ownership of a share of the United Kingdom's overseas properties, e.g. embassies & consulates:

Scotland will be entitled to a fair share of the UK's extensive overseas properties (or a share of their value) allowing us to use existing premises for some overseas posts. For example, the Foreign Office owns or leases almost 5,000 properties overseas [source]. The estimated value of this estate is around £1.9 billion. Based on a population share (our actual share will be a matter for negotiation) Scotland would be entitled to around £150 million allowing us to establish ourselves quickly and for little initial cost in our priority countries.
Chapter 6 - International Relations and Defence

The paper also argues that Scotland would be entitled to £7.8 billion of the UK's existing defence assets - based on a population-share proportion of the 2007 valuation of ~£93 billion performed by the Ministry of Defence. It even splits out what particular assets Scotland would seek from the UK, including, amongst others, "one aviation unit operating six helicopters", "a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) squadron incorporating a minimum of 12 Typhoon jets", "two frigates from the Royal Navy's current fleet" and so on.

Other assets mentioned in the report that an independent Scotland would seek to inherit include BBC Scotland, "assets that are not related directly to particular services, such as the UK’s public shareholdings in banks", "bespoke IT software", and so on.

Page 21 of the report does mention that Scotland may choose to offset its share of national debt against these assets.

There are also implications for the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent - Trident. The white paper makes clear that an independent Scotland would no longer accept Trident being based at the ports of Faslane & Coulport:

The Scottish Government is committed to securing the complete withdrawal of Trident from an independent Scotland as quickly as can be both safely and responsibly achieved.

As the rest of the UK has no bases outside of Scotland suitable for Trident, this would present a significant problem for the Westminster government. Indeed, it has been proposed more recently that Scotland should fund its defence by leasing the bases out while a replacement is constructed - something which would almost certainly prove to be extremely expensive for the UK taxpayer. In a worst case scenario, the loss of the UK's nuclear deterrent would lead to a further reduction in its international standing. For example, the UK would become the only permanent member of the UN Security Council without nuclear capabilities.

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    Would they really be entitled to any of this stuff? They are currently a part of the UK, and by definition already own it just being part of the UK. If they choose to leave, they choose to leave behind claims to ownership of assets, because the UK could make a counter claim that UK taxes paid for a lot of stuff in Scotland, and they need to pay all that back.It doesn't make any sense that Scotland would be able to make claims like what you quoted.
    – Issel
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 15:37
  • When Czechoslovakia split, assets were divided between the two according to an agreed ratio. After the fall of the Soviet Union parts of its armed forces and some other assets were divided up. It's relatively simple to divide many movable things, but other things like property pose more of a problem.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 9:41

The answer is yes. E.g. fishing rights in the North Sea would again be something that could be dictated by the EU. (Assuming they joined the EU)

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    Parts of the North Sea presumably. But I assume there a lot more than just the 0.12% of UK GDP associated with fishing at stake.
    – Jontia
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 8:45
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    I think the answer would be better just saying that the rest of the UK would lose fishing rights to Scottish waters. Whether Scotland subsequently joins the CFP is a bit of side issue.
    – richardb
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 11:33
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    @Jontia: There would probably be a greater impact from the loss of oil drilling rights in the North Sea (though North Sea oil is apparently having trouble since COVID-19.) Oil & gas production was about 1.2% of UK GDP in 2018 (see p. 6), though not all of that came from regions of the North Sea that Scotland would control. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 15:51
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    Oil/gas has become a politically tricky topic in Scotland due to climate change, the diminishing productivity of the fields in general, and the low price currently. It was actually a loss making industry recently, so I doubt it will feature quite so prominently in any future manifesto for independence. Perhaps more emphasis on the offshore skills available for a burgeoning renewables sector?
    – awjlogan
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 10:52
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    "Dictate again"? Typically there are lots of negotiations between members for such matters, aren't there? Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 14:53

From Wikipedia's article on It's Scotland's oil

Jim Sillars, former Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party, said during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum that “BP, in an independent Scotland, will need to learn the meaning of nationalisation, in part or in whole, as it has in other countries who have not been as soft as we have forced to be. We will be the masters of the oil fields, not BP or any other of the majors.”

During the referendum, it was quite common to see pro-independence supporters using oil nationalization as a pro for leaving the UK. Whether or not independence could accomplish that is another matter entirely, but a lot of the economic rationale for leaving the UK was based on the assumption that they would get a lot of the oil rigs in the North Sea.

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    That was 2014, so that was at 2014 oil prices. Oil is rapidly becoming a depreciating asset, so likely to be less of an issue next Indyref. Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 11:59
  • @BrianDrummond our economy still relies very heavily on oil, no matter how much it costs now. So yes, "who owns the fields?" is still an extremely important question. Commented Nov 1, 2020 at 15:06
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    At the time (2020) the oil price is too low to make offshore oil very profitable, hence the different perception of 2014 and 2020. However, sitting on oil reserves may be beneficial in the future.
    – Dohn Joe
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 10:16
  • @DohnJoe: The UK has announced a ban on ICE cars by 2030. It is very well possible that the cost of cleanup of the oil industry will exceed any remaining revenues. BP may decide to just walk away from Scotland
    – MSalters
    Commented Dec 8, 2020 at 1:09
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    Oil is still important in petrochemicals as well as to fuel other forms of transport. Substantial amounts will still be used for quite some time, even if eventually it could be replaced by fuels and chemicals from other sources.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 9:37

The UK would lose power. A bigger stronger country can field a larger army, wield a larger budget by collecting more taxes, and influence other countries on the world stage with threats like economic sanctions.

Arguably this should not be a consideration in modern Europe, since the citizens of the country itself don't benefit much from the country being more powerful, and we have international organisations to wield power collectively. Nevertheless, many world leaders seem to think this way, based on their hostile responses to independence movements and occasional attempts to expand.

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    I might be wrong, but I think Scotland costs more to the U.K. government than it receives in taxes? I.e. England subsidised it. Based on a purely tax income / government spending amount, I would expect a Scotlandless “U.K.” to be better off?
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 9:15
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    @Tim it depends on who you ask. But the income/expenditure difference is not huge on a per capita basis either way. Certainly not say, £350m a week to pluck a random number out of the air.
    – Jontia
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 11:11
  • Scotland accounts for just over 8% of the UK population. All else being equal, do you really think that losing 8% of its population would make much difference to the UK's power on the world stage? Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 14:24
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    @SteveMelnikoff depends what then happens with Irish reunification, Wales and Londonpendance. It would be embarrassing if nothing else. Especially if an EU Scotland grows GDP faster than Brexit Rump. Or other whacky ideas.
    – Jontia
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 15:15
  • "since the citizens of the country itself don't benefit much from the country being more powerful" Citation needed. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 10:11

If Scotland joined the EU, there would be a new trading border. If free trade was not allowed by the European Parliament, there would either have to be traffic stops or smuggling would be rife, or possibly both. It's difficult to say who would lose or gain most.

  • In general, trade might certainly be an issue. However, the European Parliament is not in charge of "allowing" or "disallowing" free trade with non-EU countries. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 22:04
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    @henning - Yes it is. I refer you to this. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/21930/… --- Note that I said "If Scotland joined the EU ..." Then the rest of Britain couldn't trade freely with Scotland. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 22:40
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    Brief, the EP plays but a minor role in the whole procedure. Its one stumbling block of many and cannot alone "allow" or "disallow" external trade. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 22:53
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    The relevance of the European Parliament aside, this is a significant issue. The current UK government is seeking closed borders with the EU. If Scotland had open borders with the EU, England and Wales would have to either reopen borders with the EU or close the border with Scotland, which would be hugely disruptive. Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 6:47
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    @chasly-supportsMonica To expand on Jontia's comment. The NI-RoI border is a problem because the Good Friday Agreement collides with GB-EU restrictions. A SCO-UK border would be like the France-UK border; usual EU rules applied. Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 11:07

Some nuclear weapons, potentially.

Scotland is home to various defense assets of the UK's military, e.g. nuclear subs.

If a part of a country seceedes, then the question of how to split up the military assets arises. Other than immobile assets, e.g. oilfields, military assets are quite mobile. While, you can't move a naval base can definitely can move out the ships. And a naval base without a navy is pretty worthless, unless it's in a region with expensive real estate.

When the Ukraine became independent of the Soviet Union, it inherited some of the nuclear weapons.

So, if Scotland became independent of the UK, it could inherit some of the nuclear assets stationed in Scotland. On the other hand, the international community is actively seeking to keep the number of countries at a minimum. Hence, the Ukraine disarmed itself nuclearily (is this a word? If not, I bestow my invention upon the world for free. You're welcome).

Thus, one could argue that the Remaining United Kingdom would retain its status as nuclear power, and Scotland will only gain independence non-nuclearly.

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    The SNP has no interest in having its own nuclear deterrent. They don't want the UK's nuclear deterrent in Scotland at the moment despite the local economic benefits. Though undoubtedly for accounting purposes a new Scottish government would argue for its "share" of the equipment that could be "sold" back to the UK government in exchange for something it actually wants.
    – Jontia
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 10:43

You could only find material evidence of the secession if you searched hard: it would be immaterial for families further south. It would be a loss of power for the UK government and for certain companies and banks.

For wealth, culture, the rest of the UK citizens would barely notice the difference. It is entirely a nationalistic and identity issue for the rest of Britain. Only Scotland would see major changes in the way of life because of new laws.

  • Speculative, and probably untrue. At the very least the Rump UK would notice the change in the distributions of MPs. The consolidation of a Conservative majority, excluding '97 type events, would be a significant game changer for Westminster politics.
    – Jontia
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 10:28
  • Your statements are indeed speculative and probably untrue. If Rump sits above France it's hardly a flattering an apt analogy to use in any proper conversation. Rumps have anuses so perhaps it's best to consider your own region as a Rump region jonia? Where have you encountered Rump being used in international politics before? Are you a Trumpist type cogitator using arse hole qualifiants for foreign affairs? Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 10:44
  • "rump" was a common phrase used to specify the UK without Scotland during the 2014 independence referendum. Collins Definition
    – Jontia
    Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 10:56
  • @jontia If you gain your knowledge from the media, sure you will learn political slander and media sounbytes as if they are reasonable or factual. Chances are my family are Scottish working in westminster, so we can say that i base my wording on experience and you base it on media soundbytes and stories. Rumps expunge poop do they not? Is that construcitve. Your post history suggests that you are UK and brexit obsesdive BTW. Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 12:09

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