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Monday, 24 November 2014

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No passport control at England-Scotland border, says first minister

A claim that Scotland may have to establish passport controls at the English border if it votes for independence has been dismissed.

Related: Check points at border if Scotland breaks away from union?

The UK’s Europe Minister David Lidington this week said Scotland would not necessarily inherit the UK’s opt-out of the Schengen Agreement which permits freedom of movement around most of Europe.

The opt-out means EU citizens are still subject to passport checks at UK borders.

His claim, potentially, could mean passport points having to be put in place at crossings between Cumbria and Dumfriesshire, including the main route at Gretna, impacting on commuters who go each way every day.

But a spokesman for Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond dismissed the claims as “tired old scare stories”.

He said: “As legal, constitutional and European experts have confirmed, the reality is that Scotland is part of the territory of the European Union and the people of Scotland are citizens of the EU – there is no provision for either of these circumstances to change upon independence.

“And an independent Scotland will also inherit the Common Travel Area which exists between the UK and Ireland, rendering claims of passport controls ridiculous.”

Mr Lidington visited the Scottish Parliament this week to discuss developments in the eurozone with MSPs. Speaking afterwards, he said opt-outs like Schengen, and also of the euro currency, “require not just a bilateral agreement between the UK and an independent Scotland, it would require the agreement of all of the other member states as well”.

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