London: Scotland may have to reapply for membership of international organisations such as the UN and European Union if it secedes from the UK after a 2014 referendum, the British government said in legal advice published here today.
"If Scotland became independent, only the `remainder of the UK` would automatically continue to exercise the same rights, obligations and powers under international law as the UK currently does, and would not have to renegotiate existing treaties or reapply for membership of international organisations," Downing Street said in a statement accompanying the legal opinion.
The status Scotland, if it secedes from the United Kingdom, has been a subject of debate since Scotland?s First Minister, Alex Salmond, and British Prime Minister David Cameron signed a deal on the issue in October last year.
Cameron`s office released the 57-page legal opinion from Professor James Crawford of Cambridge University and Professor Alan Boyle of Edinburgh University as a means to clear up uncertainty about the legal status of an independent Scotland.
Downing Street also plans to publish information on other aspects of independence in the coming months, seen as a way of dissuading Scots from voting in favour of independence.
If Scotland were to become a separate state, it might face entry criteria for the EU including signing up for the European single currency, Crawford and Boyle claim.
They based their argument on the outcome of the majority of 20th century cases of separation, including Ireland’s departure from the UK in 1922, and the break-up of the USSR.
They said the decision on whether a "new state" had been created usually rested on population and territory and the UK`s role as a nuclear state, a member of NATO and a permanent member of the UN Security Council could be thrown into jeopardy.
No date has been set yet for the vote, which is likely to be held in late 2014.
Most of Britain`s political parties, including the Conservatives, are campaigning for Scotland to stay in the UK, while the Scottish National Party (SNP) based in Edinburgh wants it to become independent.
Governments traditionally refuse to publish their legal advice, claiming it would damage their ability to freely discuss and prepare policy, and would breach client-lawyer confidentiality.