Michael Moore MP’s Road to Referendum: “A mutual meeting point between two nations, rather than an international border point separating two states”

September 14th "Welcome to Scotland"There was cross-party agreement last week in the House of Commons after I, alongside Conservative MP for Penrith and the Border Rory Stewart, made the case for United Kingdom cross-border unity at Scottish Questions.  Alongside Mr Stewart, I asked specifically about what independence would mean for Border constituencies.

The future shape of Scotland, and the very existence of the United Kingdom, is at stake in the forthcoming referendum. If Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom, the Border constituencies would be the first to feel the effects of an international border.

There are no easy answers to the question of what could happen if Scotland goes it alone. There would be a new international border and – however close our cooperation – that could mean more bureaucracy and extra controls for people travelling to visit family, go on holiday or do business.

Common UK citizenship and the unrestricted movement of people and goods between Scotland and other parts of the UK have been crucial in enabling the integration of communities and businesses.  If Scotland votes yes it may signal potentially dramatic changes to the personal finances of many thousands who live on one side of the border but work on the other. The number is estimated at around 30,000, but this rises to 110,000 once longer-distance commuters, such as those working on oil rigs in the North Sea are included.  Scotland’s largest customer is the rest of the UK. Independence would mean greater costs for business with different regulatory and tax regimes.

Management of the UK’s external border is complex, expensive and relies on a fully integrated system across the UK. Currently, all activity to manage, control and secure the UK’s border, and every penny spent, benefits each UK citizen wherever they live or work.  Of course Scotland could be independent, but there is a price to be paid by both countries if that happens, and that price includes serious problems at the Border.  If the United Kingdom, minus Scotland, does not have control of and does not know what Scotland’s immigration policy is going to be, it cannot commit itself to an open border with Scotland.

Anybody who pauses at the top of the Carter Bar on the A68 is able to experience one of the most beautiful views of Scotland, as well as one of the most beautiful views of England.  I hope that at the end of the year when I pause at the top of the Carter Bar, this spot will continue to be a mutual meeting point between two nations, rather than an international border point separating two states.

 

* Michael Moore was the Liberal Democrat MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from 1997-2015 and Secretary of State for Scotland from 2010-2013.

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6 Comments

  • “Currently, all activity to manage, control and secure the UK’s border, and every penny spent, benefits each UK citizen wherever they live or work. ”

    I’d comment on this, but I’d have trouble being polite. I’m very surprised, and not in a good way, to see this UKIP parliamentary broadcast coming from a Lib Dem MP. The exaggerated UK border control fuss put in place to keep the loony right and the editor of the Daily Express happy doesn’t benefit me in the least thanks very much. It’s a ridiculous waste of money, an annoying waste of time and an offensive attack on freedom.

    The obvious answer to the question of Scotland’s border is for both countries to be in Schengen.

  • Oh for goodness sake.

    If you wander to the Wikipedia page on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland you will see two photos about 1/3 of the way down on the left:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Ireland%E2%80%93United_Kingdom_border

    Is there any reason to think that an England/Scotland border would look any different?

    This is _pure_ scaremongering. I don’t object to realistic objections, and pointing out the downside of separation. But stories about border controls are just silly nonsense.

  • Ireland is I thought part of the EU we have open borders with the EU. If Scotland sadly goes its own way it will not at first be a part of the Union hence the strong need for border control

    I do not consider that negative only factual, if the Scots vote for go alone they will probably require a good number of new blood for the economy to prosper the folk who came into Scotland should not be allowed free access to the balance of the remainder of the UK

  • Its not scaremongering. Scotland will almost certainly be inside the Schengen Zone, England will almost certainly not be. So the border will be less open than the Irish one. Not so closed that I won’t be able to demonstrate the pointlessness of national frontiers by standing with a foot on either side of the stupid thing, but still.

    Anyway, quite apart from that, the point of the article seems to be that the author doesn’t want to have an international frontier, however porous, strung across one of his favourite scenic views separating two places he feels equally at home in. While not agreeing with the case in favour of border controls and such, I can appreciate that point of view.

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