WRITING in the influential London School of Economics blog, Oxford Professor of Law Derrick Wyatt QC argues that it would be very much in the interests of the rUK to have the closest possible relationship with an independent Scotland. He says that this should include "a customs union, a comprehensive free-trade agreement, a common travel area, a pact on defence and, possibly, a pact on sterling and a banking union”. 

Of course the government and people of Scotland may have a different opinion about some aspects of co-operation, especially if it stands in the way of Scotland restoring close political and economic ties with the EU or if a defence pact proves to be a hindrance to the swift removal of the UK's weapons of mass destruction from the Clyde.

The National: Trident will be removed from an independent Scotland

Nevertheless, it's encouraging that there are influential people in England thinking ahead and looking beyond the inevitable scaremongering rhetoric which the British Government and its supporters are certain to deploy as pressure mounts for a second independence referendum.

However, one of Professor Wyatt's main reasons for the UK pursuing a close and friendly relationship with an independent Scotland is to avoid "erosion" and "damage" to the UK's international standing, image and influence. I hate to break it to the good professor, but that ship has sailed – or more exactly it has sailed, struck the iceberg of Brexit and is now lying broken and beyond repair in the darkest depths of the ocean.

Brexit has ruined the UK's international reputation. Speaking to the i digital newspaper, José Ignacio Torreblanca, head of the European Council on Foreign Relations office in Madrid, said that during Trump's presidency, the UK and the USA had "committed a kind of Anglo-Saxon suicide", falling prey to the populist theories that drove Brexit. He added that "Britain used to be revered for its foreign policy, but it has just faded away off the centre stage and the only thing people in Europe see of the UK is negative stories in the press".

Meanwhile Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Centre in Brussels, said: "We used to make the distinction between Britain and the government. Now there is an exasperation with Britain. Britain seems to have turned much more inward thinking, insular and less democratic."

It is certain that European attitudes to Scottish independence will be markedly more supportive during the next referendum campaign than they were in 2014. The UK has destroyed its reputation – however, an independent Scotland can count on significant goodwill from Europe.

This piece is from today's REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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