PARIS (Reuters) – Britain’s international partners are aghast, mostly in silence, at the possibility one of the leading Western powers could break up and turn in on itself if Scotland votes for independence from London.
Many fear such a split would foreshadow a British exit from the European Union, on which Prime Minister David Cameron has promised a referendum in 2017, weakening the world’s sixth largest economy and its continental partners.
Some also fear it would set a precedent, boosting separatism in Catalonia and elsewhere in Europe. Independence campaigners from around the continent have underlined this by flocking to Edinburgh to support the “Yes” campaign in the Sept. 18 vote and to draw lessons for their own struggle.
Some posed for a group photograph with Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond, now racing to turn narrowing opinion polls into a win in the Sept. 18 vote.
The idea is not sitting well in leading capitals.
U.S. President Barack Obama has been forthright in urging Britons to stay together and in the EU.
“We obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner,” Obama said on a visit to Europe in June.
U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, while stressing it was up to the Scottish people to decide, underlined this week the importance of Scotland in building and basing Britain’s nuclear submarine force.
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