SINCE the Scottish Government released its first paper in a fresh prospectus for independence, questions have been floating around on how tricky topics such as currency and defence will be handled.

But one subject which many feel could become a bigger discussion point than it perhaps was in 2014, is what – if independence is achieved – will happen with the land border with England.

Nicola Sturgeon has made no secret of the fact she would push for Scotland to rejoin the EU if people voted Yes and, subsequently, the prospect of a firmer border with rest of the UK has begun to creep into Scots’ minds.

A report earlier this year by Professor Katy Hayward of Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Nicola McEwen of Edinburgh University, argued that Brexit has “profoundly changed the context in which independence is contested and could be realised” and that the First Minister has already vowed to be “frank” about the challenges a border would pose.

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Another expert, Dr Kirsty Hughes, below, founder and director (from 2017-2021) of the Scottish Centre on European Relations, said last year it was unlikely an independent Scotland would have a “frictionless border” with England if it rejoined the EU.

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But when The National spoke to Math Campbell-Sturgess, founder of English Scots for Yes, he insisted it was not something anyone either side of Berwick-Upon-Tweed should be afraid of.

“The border is not a problem, it’s an opportunity,” he said.

“People think of borders and they immediately think of Checkpoint Charlie [the Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War].

“In reality, borders are fluid. They have to be. A hard border can still be as fluid as is necessary.”

English Scots for Yes was founded towards the end of 2012 when Campbell-Sturgess realised there was no group within the movement for English people who lived in Scotland that supported independence.

He felt forming the group was vital to fend off the false idea the wider movement was anti-English – a theory that has been fuelled by commentary from Unionists who have often used the border question to suggest an independent Scotland would be hostile.

Campbell-Sturgess, below, who is originally from the Cambridge area and is now an SNP Helensburgh and Lomond South councillor, vividly remembers former Labour leader Ed Miliband suggesting manned border posts would be introduced if Scotland backed independence in 2014.

The National: Picture by Bill Fleming.Yes Scotland photocall for English Scots For Yes held outside the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh..Pic shows Math Campbell-Sturgess (31) who is originally from Cambridge and has lived in Scotland for the past 13 years..

English Scots for Yes responded at the time by heading down to the border and throwing a tea party. Even now, the group remains unafraid of engaging in discussions about the possibility of a trade border with the land they once called home.

At the Aberdeen Independence Movement’s recent Progress to Yes conference, they led a discussion on the border and Campbell-Sturgess said what came out of it was that while a soft border was still the preference, there was an acceptance following Brexit it may have to be firmer and that didn’t need to be viewed negatively.

“I think originally the feeling was a soft border would be the preference but I think there’s a realisation that it’s going to need to be slightly firmer, purely because we need it to be to because we want to be back in Europe and England clearly doesn’t and we cannot control what they do, nor should we try to,” said Campbell-Sturgess, who moved to Scotland in 2001.

“It’s not in anyone’s best interests to have a hard border but if that’s what the UK Government decides, I don’t think we could put independence aside just because of that.

“The other side of it is, borders are not a bad thing. [Ed] Miliband was talking about putting guards on the border in 2014. The Canadian-American border has guards and it’s a two-minute process to cross that. Five minutes if they’ve got a security threat going on perhaps.

“The border is an opportunity for Scotland and this is something we teased out a lot during the panel [at the Progress to Yes conference]. You hear a lot of people saying if we go independent then Scotland’s biggest trading partner is England and we’ll lose our trade with England. No we won’t. We’ll do more trade with England.

“I fully expect, post-independence, that regardless of what happens with fuel prices, one side of that border is going to have a whole load of petrol stations because the price will probably be different on one side to the other. I know one side will have a big row of stations because there’s an opportunity to make money there. Borders are a trading post.

“The benefits of independence outweigh having to wait 10 minutes to get over a border.”

Campbell-Sturgess also said he felt having a border would introduce an opportunity to improve infrastructure in the Borders, Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway, and Northumberland.

He added he was looking into whether some sort of border forum could be set up so both sides could discuss how they could make the best of whatever is put in place and even help each other to make trade as simple as possible.

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“The border between England and Scotland is a really bad place infrastructure-wise. People think it’s remote but it’s not,” added Campbell-Sturgess.

“Infrastructure spending is something we could do a lot more of near the border.

“We should be helping the border regions in England as well. I’m looking into whether there’s any possibility of setting up some sort of border forum because those communities in England get forgotten about.

“The border is an incredibly important trading post so we should be saying we’ll build motorways from Edinburgh to the border, and we’ll help you with your infrastructure spend and build more on that side so we can trade better with you.”