Kosovo is apparently about to declare its independence from Serbia, against resistance from Serbia. I have mixed feelings about Kosovo, which is run by a particularly nasty Albanian mafia, but then if the people want self-determination, they should get it.
There is a very important point here for Scotland. We shall see how the EU and UN react. Gordon Brown, his tame UK government lawyers and the New Labour hack academic establishment in Scotland continue to argue, against the last twenty years of international experience, that it would be impossible in international law for Scotland to claim independence unilaterally without the agreement of the UK authorities. Kosovo is about to show that is not the international legal position in 2008.
Given that the UK will recognise Kosovo, it is ludicrous for the same people to argue that for Scotland to do the same as Kosovo would be illegal.
Meanwhile the citizens of Berwick Upon Tweed allegedly wish to rejoin Scotland, according to an opinion poll. Of course they are Scottish. But we certainly shouldn’t formally expand any further South after that for a while, or we’ll get lumbered with Northern Rock.
I love railways, and travel often over the main East Coast line on that beautiful curve over the glistening Tweed. But it still amazes me that the Victorians drove the track right through the keep of Berwick Castle, one of the most historic sites in the UK.
There is an important point in all this. Bringing Berwick into Scotland would of course move the potential lateral maritime boundary between England and Scotland. You may recall that, as Head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Maritime Section, I personally negotiated the UK’s current maritime boundaries with France, Denmark (the Faeroes) and Ireland. I calculate that Berwick would bring an independent Scotland about 1360 square miles of hydrocarbon rich seabed, when the oil price is making marginal and residual production increasingly attractive. So this is less frivolous than it sounds.