Scottish Independence 'could strip Britain of world power status'

UK could lose its influence in the world and its United Nations seat if Scotland goes, MPs have warned

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson

The United Kingdom will lose its role as one of the world’s major powers if Scotland breaks away, an MP has warned.

County Durham MP Phil Wilson said the rest of the world would no longer take the UK seriously if Scotland quit.

And one likely consequence would be that the UK lost its permanent seat on the United Nations security council, he said.

He was speaking in the House of Commons as MPs debated ongoing crises in the Middle East and the Ukraine.

Mr Wilson, Labour MP for Sedgfield, said air strikes were needed to deal with ISIL, the self-proclaimed “Islamic state” which has taken over parts of Iraq, but these may not be sufficient.

But he also warned MPs that the UK’s influence in the world was partly a result of its cultural reach and influence, as well as the strength of its military, and argued that this would be significantly reduced if Scots voted for independence in next week’s referendum.

He also said the UK’s influence would be diminished if the country left the European Union. Conservatives are promising a referendum on quitting the EU if they win the next general election.

Mr Wilson said: “If the Scottish people vote next week to leave the Union, and if there is a referendum on leaving the EU by the end of 2017 and we do so, how can this country - or what remains of it - be treated seriously as a world power if what we want to do is retreat from the world and we lack confidence on the world stage, because that would be the result?

“Those of us who believe in doing what is best for our national interests believe that dividing the Union of the United Kingdom and the union of Europe is clearly not in the national interest. If we go down that path, how long will it be before our permanent seat on the UN Security Council is brought into question?”

He added: “Last week in Wales the United Kingdom hosted the most important NATO summit in decades. More than 50 Heads of State were present, and it was the largest gathering of its kind in UK history.

“This shows the importance of the UK and its role in the world, and I do not want to see that role diminished. It is a role we have played for decades, if not centuries, and our liberal democracy has not hesitated to defend those values in the darkest of times.”

Meanwhile, North East MEP Paul Brannen has been in Scotland to urge Scots to vote “no”.

The Labour politician said: “I am extremely worried about the loss of the progressive Scottish voice from British politics and society.

“The working people of the East End of Glasgow have lots in common with the people of the East End of London.

“Politically speaking we are truly better together than we would be divided.

“The ‘yes’ campaign has appealed to people’s hearts and my message is to people’s hearts too, together we are a progressive nation.

“Just one example is Keir Hardie who is widely seen as the founder of the Labour Party was Scottish. We also share something else, the people of Scotland didn’t vote for this Government, and neither did the people of the North East.”

Northumberland Conservative MP Guy Opperman, MP for Hexham, has also been campaigning in Scotland.

Welcoming the visit to Scotland by all three major party leaders earlier this week, he said: “The evidence from Canada’s referendum 20 years ago when Quebec thought about leaving is that the rest of the country needs to be passionately making the case to the undecided nation that they want them to stay.”

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