Scottish Independence: Edinburgh berths for diplomats

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon show off the Scottish Government blueprint. Picture: Hemedia
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon show off the Scottish Government blueprint. Picture: Hemedia
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an influx of foreign diplomats is set deliver a major boost to Edinburgh if Scots vote Yes to independence, Nationalists said today.

The White Paper detailing the Scottish Government’s blueprint for an independent Scotland, unveiled yesterday, said the increased interest from overseas countries would start as soon as the referendum was over and negotiations over the split with the UK had begun.

It said: “During the transition period, many more countries will set up embassies and consulates in Scotland.”

Edinburgh Central SNP MSP Marco Biagi said that was likely to bring more jobs to the Capital.

“Independence would not just mean Scotland setting up embassies around the world, there would be a massive growth in embassies here in Scotland, bringing a diplomatic presence and many more support jobs,” he said.

The government has pointed out Ireland hosts 56 embassies with about 660 staff, compared with the 150 people working in consular offices in Scotland, and has estimated the economic benefit of extra jobs would run into tens of millions of pounds.

The increased overseas 
representation in the city could also mean a boost for fee-paying schools and even the possibility of a new international school being set up.

The White Paper also said the current Scottish Government would want a “substantial diplomatic presence” in both London and Dublin after independence – and would be “active participants in the British-Irish Council, the secretariat of which is already based in Edinburgh”.

The White Paper also spelled out the government’s commitment to a high-speed rail link between Edinburgh and Glasgow, which it said would act as a “launch pad” for high-speed rail services to the south.

Mr Biagi said: “When you look around Europe, high-speed rail connections across international boundaries are quite common. The difference is most countries have existing internal high-speed railways which they are linking up but we are starting from scratch.”

The government said it expected the Green Investment Bank, whose headquarters were established in Edinburgh after a hard-fought campaign, to remain in the Capital.

It said: “The UK Green Investment Bank plc was created in 2012 as a UK funding institution to attract funds for the financing of the private sector’s investments related to environmental preservation and improvement.

“Under our plans, the Green Investment Bank will continue to be shared between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK and continue to be headquartered in Scotland.”

The Green Investment Bank already had bases in Edinburgh and London and it was a natural candidate to become a cross-border institution, he added.

iswanson@edinburghnews.com