Monday, 25 February 2008

The unintended consequences of Berwick-on-Tweed

If, as the latest straw poll suggests, the inhabitants of Berwick-on-Tweed were to seek to join Scotland after 500 years of being English then the Scots should think through the unintended consequences for Scotland’s claims to the Shetland Islands. After all these islands were pawned in 1469 by the King of Norway and Denmark for a Scottish loan, so they have only been in Scottish hands 13 years longer than Berwick-on-Tweed has been English. There was a right of redemption in payment of 210 kgs of gold , which seems a rather reasonable sum for the oil rich Norwegians to find for 566 square miles, even at the present price of gold.

The financial attractions for the Shetlanders of joining Norway might be even greater than those enthusing the burghers of Berwick-on-Tweed. They would not only be able to expect amongst the highest living standards in Europe, the end to direct EU interference in their lives, but they could also make off with whatever oil reserves are left in their section of the North Sea.

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