[T]here is no automatic reason to presume that independence divorce talks would face the perfect and chaotic storm that UK politics is in over Brexit.’ Hughes, 2019
If you were still quite wee, say under 12, that 300 hundred years thing might fool you but if you were the leader of a political party you might be expected to know a bit more about the history of other nations who have left the violent and suffocating embrace of the British Empire and to have read what some constitutional experts have written about the process.
A total of 63 have left and 3 have, so far, voted to stay – Northern Ireland in 1973, Bermuda in 1995 and Scotland in 2014. The list is too long to show here but you can see them all with a wee picture of all their flags at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_that_have_gained_independence_from_the_United_Kingdom
To see maps showing where they all are, see: https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/gallery/2014/sep/19/every-single-country-that-has-left-the-united-kingdom-mapped
So, first of all, even a bairn might think if 63 can do it, why not Scotland? But, more difficult than Brexit? See this from by Dr Kirsty Hughes, Director of the Scottish Centre on European Relations on 22nd February 2019:
Any future divorce talks between the UK and a to-be-independent Scotland would focus on a partly similar and partly very different set of issues. Money would certainly be there and arguments over dividing up assets. There would, though, be no equivalent to the Northern Irish backstop issue – there is not one part of Scotland that would need differentiated treatment vis-à-vis the UK compared to the rest of Scotland.
And on citizens, while some on the pro-UK side in 2014 argued there would need to be passport checks between Scotland and England, the continuation of the Common Travel Area (CTA) with Ireland, under the Brexit deal, suggests that would or could continue too in the case of an independent Scotland
But the extraordinary political turmoil in the UK, and the drivers of that turmoil, are highly unusual for a western democracy, so the perfect storm that is UK Brexit politics is rather unlikely to find a direct equivalent in the future Scottish politics of independence. In the UK, a Conservative prime minister (David Cameron) backed Remain then was replaced by a Remain-supporting prime minister (Theresa May) determined, now, to push through Brexit. It’s hard to imagine an analogy to Scotland there.
But differences within and between Scottish political parties would also surely exist over major aspects of the future UK-Scotland relationship – as evidenced in debates within the independence movement. And differences could emerge more strongly over whether to join the EU, the European Economic Area or neither (though the Brexit experience so far would suggest joining neither would be a damaging route to go down indeed). But whether differences of political view would lead to the sort of stalemate and political crisis the UK now faces seems unlikely.
The difference to the current situation would be that the UK would be a rule-taker on EU trade policy and deals where Scotland would be a rule-maker with the other EU member states – meaning Scotland would have more power than the UK over trade policy – quite a reversal compared to the status quo.
But if an independent Scotland sticks to the declared goal of joining the EU, that would be clear, and the EU has a very clear set of well-used rules and processes for accession. In contrast, Brexit is the first time Article 50 has been used. So, the huge uncertainty that haunts the UK over its future relationship with the EU would not hang over accession talks for Scotland. And, importantly for our comparison here, there would be less uncertainty too about the future UK-Scotland relationship.
The politics of divorce talks will depend on the nature of domestic politics on both sides – but there is no automatic reason to presume that independence divorce talks would face the perfect and chaotic storm that UK politics is in over Brexit.