I wonder if any readers know what the Azores Summit was?
It was a meeting in 2003 attended by Tony Blair, George W Bush and Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar. It was the precursor for the invasion of Iraq, an illegal war which was to have a catastrophic loss of life and would cost over a trillion pounds. You can read an account of the summit here and whilst some may point out that the source is hardly an objective one, this blogger at least is impressed at the prescient tone of the article written at the time.
Any such meeting would require an organiser, a host. The three leaders were very confident in the man who fulfilled the role although as president of Portugal at the time where there was near 90% opposition to the Iraq war, he had to keep a low profile.
However now that he is in a rather more powerful position than he was then, surely there is no need for his reticence and modesty.
Step forward José Manuel Barroso.
Yes indeed the same José Manuel Barroso, unelected but most powerful man in the EU*, who knows all about what would happen if Scotland were to vote yes in the independence referendum. Scotland would have to apply for membership of the EU he says. Of course in the period since he intervened in the debate, several legal experts have pointed out that there would be no mechanism by which a state could be excluded simply by reasserting its nationhood.
(* A man whom Tony Blair proudly boasts owes his position to him)
As the very name United Kingdom (the current member state) was first used in 1603 after the union of the crowns of Scotland and England and became a constitutional unit of equal partners following the Act of Union in 1707, it is difficult to see how the “Remaining UK” could be chosen in isolation as the successor state over Scotland.
I’m no legal expert but there seems to be a sufficient clarity deficit of the constitutional position to at least cast doubt on M Barroso’s interpretation of EU law. The UK meanwhile as the member state has done nothing to improve the clarity of the legal situation. Michael Moore is quite happy with Barroso’s letter it would seem.
The whole independence debate is now shaping up to be not very much about independence at all. It is becoming more of a choice between London and Brussels. Given the likelihood of 1) A referendum on UK membership of the EU post 2014 and 2) The likelihood of that vote being to leave the EU, the situation is gearing up to be a most interesting and complicated one.
I personally can’t see Scotland voting to separate from its biggest trading partners in such circumstances.
That may well turn out to be a pyrrhic victory for M Barroso.
And his friends.