On reading this tissue of
superficiality from authors who evidently just don't know Scotland, I
would advise them to go away and study history.
The line of the border between Scotland and England was fixed by the
Treaty of York, dated 12 November in the year 1273, between Alexander
II, King of Scots, and Henry III, King of England, and apart from a
minor adjustment in the west in 1552 has never been altered to this day.
That border runs from the middle of the Solway Firth to the mouth of the
River Tweed. The Royal Border Bridge at Berwick, opened by Queen
Victoria in 1850, is proof that this was recognised even in the 19th
century. That was the line that was in force at the moment of union on 1
May 1707 and is the line that will apply at the moment of independence.
The issue is cut and dried and there is no room for any negotiation.
The Scottish Royal Burgh of Berwick received its founding Charter in the
year 1174 from David I, King of Scots. Because of the strategic
importance of the town and its castle, right on the border, they were
the victims of a number of English depredations over several decades.
These, however, were pure military aggression with no constitutional
significance, and furthermore were in flagrant breach of the Treaty of
York. The town did not simply "change hands", as is often alleged, as if
a state of lawlessness had prevailed at the time, because since 1273 at
the latest its Scottish status has never been in doubt.
King James IV wanted to marry the daughter of the English King Henry VII
for dynastic reasons, and in 1552 under pressure agreed to leave the
town and castle of Berwick under English administration, while remaining
under Scots law, with no alteration to the Tweed border. In 1746,
however, in panic measures taken after the Jacobite scare, tartan and
bagpipes were banned, and in Section 3 of the Wales and Berwick Act it
was decreed that Berwick would henceforth be subject to English law.
Unlike the other proscriptions, that one has never been repealed to this
day, not even by the 1978 Interpretation Act, which repealed the 1746
Act. As from independence, however, Berwick will once again
automatically revert to Scots law, which was in force there at the
moment of union.
The "force majeure" agreement on English administration was confined to
the town and castle of Berwick and did NOT include the landward area
north of Berwick up to Marshall Meadows and Lamberton that forms part of
the English-administered enclave within Scotland. That territory was
added to the Berwick enclave in Victorian times, with what
constitutional justification is best known to its authors. It, too, will
revert to Scottish administration at the moment of independence.
There are therefore several grounds for determining that Scotland's
marine border in the North Sea starts from Berwick harbour light at the
end of the breakwater right in the middle of the Tweed estuary
(55°45‟53.28"N–1°59‟03.12"W), and runs eastwards along a parallel of
latitude until it meets the median line at the Netherlands EEZ.
There is no doubt about this border between the Scottish and English
jurisdictions, because it has existed and been legally observed for
centuries, as participants in the fishing industry can testify. The
principle of a degree of latitude constituting the border has been
accepted by the UK, and was confirmed and archived with the United
Nations in the UK's 1968 submission on the law of the sea.
Regarding the "equidistance method", Article 15 of the UN Convention on
the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states quite specifically: "The above
provision does not apply, however, where it is necessary by reason of
historic title or other special circumstances to delimit the territorial
seas of the two States in a way which is at variance therewith."
Scotland's "historic title" to the Tweed border and the 55°45'53.28"N
latitude marine border, after hundreds of years of usage, can hardly be
I doubt whether any international tribunal would base its judgement on
such a catalogue of unredeemed mediaeval chicanery - and I haven't even
started on the skulduggery of the 1999 Order, that purported to shift
the marine border to the north without consultation with Scotland - a
fundamental constitutional issue that was given nothing even approaching
the relevant legislative consideration and democratic approval.
To conclude, I suggest that politicians, journalists and academics
should not be invited to comment on Scottish affairs until they have
demonstrated that they have sufficient knowledge of Scotland to enable
them to do so.
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