Post-independence prospects healthier for Scotland if Joe Biden secures US presidency

A leading expert in politics has said a Joe Biden victory over coming days as votes continue to be counted in the US presidential election would likely mean a smoother ride for an independent Scotland.

Post-independent Scotland would likely have a healthier relationship with a Biden administration than a Trump one
Post-independent Scotland would likely have a healthier relationship with a Biden administration than a Trump one

Professor Chris Carman, a professor of politics at the University of Glasgow, said a Donald Trump victory would continue the uncertainty around a potential trade deal after Brexit while Mr Biden could turn away from the UK and towards Europe.

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Speaking before the results of the US election are fully finalised, Prof Carman said key issues such as whisky tariffs would be unlikely to be settled purely by who wins the presidency.

He said: "If Biden wins, you can imagine relations will be more predictable and negotiations would happen more as one would hope negotiations would happen. It would be less of a focus, but more predictable.

"With Trump, it is harder to predict, and has signalled Boris Johnson’s reticence about him. Johnson is reluctant because the UK Government is holding out for some sort of trade deal with the US and that will be one of the big shining indications of what Brexit can do for us."

On independence, Mr Carman suggested that a Biden presidency would be more attractive to a potentially independent Scotland given Mr Trump’s public disapproval of independence.

He said: "From an independence point of view, to some extent a Biden presidency might be slightly more attractive.

"I would imagine that Biden would reflect what [former US president Barack] Obama said during the referendum, which is generally speaking stability is preferred, but it is clear that it was a matter for the people of Scotland.

“It is a more diplomatic response and I can imagine in the event of independence, a Biden administration would take a much more neutral view and we will start to establish a trading relationship with Scotland.”

Prof Carman said Mr Trump’s volatile personality and business interests in Scotland could make relationships between the USA and Scotland more difficult, but that ultimately who is on the negotiating team and the potential trade-offs would be more critical than who sits in the Oval Office.

He said: “Some of the things that Scotland wants in a trade deal such as reductions in whisky tariffs and the ability to sell haggis could be negotiated, but the problem with Trump is the lack of predictability and what is going to set him off.

"That could happen if the Scottish Government or a council takes a less-than-rosy view of his golf courses.

"Trump has the tie to Scotland and that slightly complicates some of the potential relationship.”

The leading academic said the Scottish Government had also invested an “awful lot” in building up relationships with the US, in particular big cities and some states, a relationship unlikely to disappear regardless of who is president.

Prof Carman said: “There is a large cultural connection with Scotland and the diaspora. Whoever is the president is not going to reduce that.

"You are going to have the Tartan Day parade and the Scottish Government has invested an awful lot in building up the relationships, not necessarily with the national government but the trading relationships between cities and states and enterprises.”

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