Update: within 24 hrs the UK Government seems to have forced those academics to take the blog down but we are onto them and we have the LSE blog archived on our site >> Exclusive: Westminster refuses to deny urging deletion of academic blog predicting indy success
A UK government economic adviser writing for the London School of Economics has suggested independence would bring significant long-term benefits to Scotland and could be achieved without Westminster support.
Geoffrey Chapman, a UK government economic advisor at the Department of International Trade and Richard Mackenzie-Gray Scott, a research fellow at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, suggest that an independent Scotland will continue growing real GDP per capita despite higher trade costs.
They compare Scotland’s position to the ‘Velvet divorce’, when Czechoslovakia was formally dissolved and the new, independent countries of Slovakia and the Czech Republic were created on 1 January, 1993. That situation has certain parallels with Scotland and the UK, they argue.
After independence both of the new countries substituted a proportion of trade with each other for trade with Germany and real GDP per capita continued growing.
Analysing Scottish figures, they note that Scotland’s current GDP increased steadily between 1998 and 2019 from £85,204 million to £177,106 million – equivalent to 107.9% growth for the period or 5% annually.
Scotland’s export growth has been relatively stable between 2002 and 2018. Trade levels with the rest of the UK peaked at 67% in 2007, when trade with Europe accounted for 16% and non-EU countries 17%.
From then until 2018 the rest of the UK share has slipped to 60%, the EU share has risen to 19% and non-EU to 21%.
Scotland is in a far better initial condition than either the Czech or Slovak Republics, and can therefore expect similar (if not better) post-independence outcome
Scotland’s top five international export destinations accounted for £15.1 billion of all exports in 2018, and the top five markets were the US, France, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. The US remains Scotland’s top international export destination, accounting for an estimated £5.5 billion in 2018.
The academics write: ‘With modest population growth alongside good GDP growth, supported by stable participation in international trade, it seems Scotland is in a far better initial condition than either the Czech or Slovak Republics, and can therefore expect similar (if not better) post-independence outcomes.’
They also argue that only a UK Supreme Court ruling can establish whether the Scottish parliament can legally to hold a second independence referendum without the involvement of Westminster.
They add: ‘Litigating this matter is not necessarily desirable. The courts afford deference to the Scottish Parliament, and there are reasons for being hesitant towards becoming entangled with, and potentially hindering, the legislative process of a democratically elected parliament.’
The authors suggest Scotland currently satisfies all the international legal criteria for statehood except the formal authority to enter into foreign relations, ‘although it has the literal ability to do so’.
If voting at the UN General Assembly is anything to go by, we see no immediate reasons why other states would side with a UK position (assuming it opposed secession)
They say: ‘Consequently, if Scotland demonstrated independence from UK authority in the course of conducting international relations, Scotland would be more likely recognised as a state by other states and international organisations.
‘Furthermore, if voting at the UN General Assembly is anything to go by, we see no immediate reasons why other states would side with a UK position (assuming it opposed secession).’
A London School of Economics report in February predicting that independence would hit the economy harder than Brexit was widely criticised for not factoring in an independent Scotland’s potential for growth.