“Shetlanders do not wish independence,” UK says

The Shetlanders neither want independence from Scotland, nor do they wish to become part of Norway again, according to Tavish Scott MSP


Michael Sandelson
The Foreigner

Parliamentary activity regarding the issue of remaining a part of, or splitting from Scotland, has been somewhat subordinate to today’s referendum in recent months.

Next week is likely to see discussions resumed.

“The Scottish Parliament has been dominated by the big picture of independence for some time and is now in recess until Tuesday 23rd September. From that day onwards the outcome of the referendum and its impact on Shetland will be part of the debate,” Tavish Scott MSP tells The Foreigner in an email.

The MSP says that general feeling of the Shetlanders regarding gaining independence from Scotland is “against.”

“Government in Edinburgh can be as remote as London and the nationalist Scottish government have removed powers from Shetland over their seven years in power so most Islanders don’t see that independence would make anything better.”

What would Shetlanders stand to gain or lose?

“Shetland does not want the uncertainty and economic instability that independence would mean especially at a time when the Islands’ economy is doing well.”

Nevertheless, some Shetlanders have expressed a wish to become part of Norway again.

Kristian Norheim, foreign policy spokesperson and deputy leader of parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense for the Progress Party (FrP), has stated that this wish should be noted.

“We must take Shetlanders saying that they feel a stronger connection to Norway than to Edinburgh seriously.”

What would the applicable consequences be should the Shetlands gain independence from Scotland and join Norway?

“I don’t believe that Shetland wants to take that particular constitutional route,” declares Scott.

How far have discussions with the Norwegian government come?

“I am not aware of any discussions involving representatives of Shetland Islands Council and the Norwegian government.”

At the same time, a “no” vote on Scottish independence from England would not mean that the present status quo is necessarily maintained, explains Scott.

“I believe that Shetland wants more autonomy from both Edinburgh and London and we will seek to work out the best way to achieve this once the result of the referendum is known.”

He also hopes that discussions regarding reinstating the old Lerwick-Bergen ferry connection are fruitful.

“That is being actively explored given Shetland’s share interest in the Smyrill Shipping Line based in Faroe. It was highly beneficial, both economically and socially,” Scott concludes.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the Sept. 26, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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