INDEPENDENCE is part of the future agenda for serious debate, argues Eric Waugh. With the West Lothian question in mind, Waugh looks to the non-UK crown dependency of the Isle of Man for inspiration, particularly its low tax rates which, he maintains, has grown its economy steadily. Waugh writes:
The Isle of Man has never been part of the UK – nor of the EU. It is not bound by EU law; nor does it pay anything to – or receive anything from – Brussels. But, vitally, it has a free trade treaty with the EU. Externally, the UK is responsible for its defence and international relations and the Queen is head of state.
An independent Northern Ireland would forego those British links, although nothing would exclude treaties with either Dublin or London to mutual advantage. But it would be the Isle of Man’s financial sector – 36% of the economy – which would be the target to imitate. With its own currency, Northern Ireland would be free to devalue, making it a desirable site for outside investors and rendering the products they would manufacture within it more competitive abroad.
In the meantime, though, the new state would require bolstering for up to 20 years by the UK, the EU – and possibly the US and even the Republic. Each of these would gain something by settlement of a political running sore. Independence is part of the future agenda for serious debate.