Scotland politics

Scottish independence: 'No change' to Commonwealth status, says SNP

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Media captionCommonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma spoke to the BBC

The SNP believes an independent Scotland would remain part of the Commonwealth, amid suggestions membership would not be automatic.

Commonwealth secretary general, Kamalesh Sharma, suggested Scotland would need to reapply post "yes".

SNP MP Pete Wishart said '"ultimately" membership in the event of a yes vote would be secured.

The UK government said it was for the Scottish government to explain why it thought it would remain a member.

The responses from the pro and anti-independence camps came after Mr Sharma spoke to BBC Newsnight Scotland about the issue.

He said: "Speculatively, if and when, were this situation [of independence] to arise then my anticipation is that a question like this won't have automaticity. It would be referred. The heads will have to take a view of the situation.

"The heads would have to take a view of it, of the situation."

Mr Sharma said the rules concerning Commonwealth membership were a matter of interpretation.

"This is something that would need to be examined," he added.

The people of Scotland will vote on whether the country should become independent on Thursday, 18 September, next year.

They will be asked a simple yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

SNP constitution spokesman Mr Wishart said Scotland would be expected to have discussions with a range of multi-national organisations after independence but that its memberships would ultimately be secured.

He explained: "It's like all of the discussion about Nato and the EU, of course we would be members. We will be a new nation and we will obviously have to have conversations and discussions with all sorts of multi-national organisations and institutions.

"Of course, that is what new nations will have to do and that would be expected of them."

Games hosts

He added: "It is nonsense in the absolute extreme to say that Scotland would not be a member of the Commonwealth.

"We are hosting the Commonwealth Games for goodness sake, and we are already in it as a quasi-independent member competing under our flag."

The Scottish government has maintained that its white paper on independence, which is due to be published in the autumn, would answer a lot of questions currently being asked.

But a spokesman for the Scotland Office insisted that in the event of independence the rest of the UK would remain in institutions such as the EU and Nato but Scotland would be a new separate state that would have to apply in its own right.

He added: "The legal opinion we received from professors James Crawford and Alan Boyle, which we have published, states clearly that in the event of independence, the remainder of the UK would continue as before and Scotland would form a new, separate state.

"This means the remainder of the UK would maintain its membership of international organisations on the same terms as it does now. This includes the Commonwealth, European Union, Nato, the IMF, United Nations, among many others.

"It is for the Scottish government to explain why it has been asserting an independent Scotland would inherit membership of the EU and Nato when both organisations have made clear Scotland would have to apply to join.

"We now have the Commonwealth secretary general saying the same thing."

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