Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Tom Pennington
The Orkney and Shetland islands could remain part of the UK if the rest of Scotland votes to separate, according to a report submitted by their MSPs (Members of Scottish Parliament) to the UK Government, The Telegraph reports. The islands could even declare independence themselves.The threat could severely damage Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond’s case for an independent Scotland, which was based largely on the claim that Scotland would be in a better financial position if it could manage its large North Sea oil reserves independent of the UK. A quarter of these reserves lie in Shetland’s waters.
The report, submitted by Liberal Democrat MSPs Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur, states that the islands could agree to join a separate Scotland only if they are granted a much bigger portion of North Sea oil and gas revenues.
Orkney and Shetland have been traditionally hostile to Edinburgh, which they regard as apathetic to their needs, interests, and culture. the islands were ruled by Norway until the 15th century. In fact, many islanders don’t even regard themselves as Scots, according to the Guardian.
While Scott agreed the threat was political “dynamite”, he questioned why only Salmond could use oil wealth to argue for self-determination. “I think we have some pretty good [bargaining] chips to play and those are the ones the people of the islands should decide how they want to play in these coming years,” he told The Telegraph.
An SNP spokesman said: “Shetland and Orkney are an important and valued part of Scotland.
“That will remain the case with independence, and the SNP have always been open to greater autonomy for the northern isles in an independent Scotland.”
However, there are some who consider the MSPs move as simple political bluster. Pointing to Scott’s overwhelming election defeat last year, Paul, Riddell, editor of the Shetland Times, said he was in “a marginal position in Scottish politics.” “That has given him time to start thinking about how Shetland ought to position itself prior to rather than after the referendum. It also allows him to make mischief as only opposition politicians can do,” he added.
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