Currency Reflections: The Legal Issues

Christine Bell has written an article on the currency debate that, for once, sheds more light than heat. She sets out home truths I've not seen stated elsewhere.

People ask the 'Yes' and 'No' camps to set out clearly what will happen, but this is not possible. A vote for 'Yes' is, and can only be, a vote to open negotiations.
It is not really in either side’s interest to tell voters that everything is up for negotiation. It is certainly not in the No campaign’s interests to tell people that Scotland has significant cards in its hand in any further negotiation over currency union. It is not in the Scottish government’s interests to point out how little it can lock down and promise about the economic future – or indeed many issues – in advance.
While both campaigns assert that this is about ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, Scotland becoming an independent country or not, in fact the situation is more complicated in our interdependent world.
An odd legal fiction decrees that if Scotland secedes from the UK, the identity of the former entity will reside with the remainder (abbreviated rUK, and sometime's pronounced "rump UK"). I have heard this applied to assert that Scotland will lose its EU membership, but I had not realised that it plays both ways.
Legally under international law the position is clear: if the remainder UK keeps the name and status of the UK under international law, it keeps its liabilities for the debt. The UK took out the debt, and legally it owes the money. Scotland cannot therefore ‘default’. It can be argued that international law does, however, contemplate that on dividing, the two resulting states share out assets and liabilities equitably. However, it has no hard and fast formula for what constitutes equitable division. Tangible natural assets such as oil go with the territory they are in. But other matters – in particular debt – must be negotiated. What is equitable will depend on the overall result and context of the negotiation.
Bell concludes with an intriguing possibility:
And instead of voting no, the people might simply decide to vote for ‘maybe’. For on most of the issues the people care about, the secret no campaign dare tell is: maybe is what a yes vote could be if that was what the people wanted.

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Yes a very worthwhile article... but "maybe is what a yes vote could be if that was what the people wanted" - er - pardon??
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