I know lots of people who act as my sound-boards to prevent me from making a fool of myself in public. Usually they help me out because they’re nice people who don’t want to see me make a fool of myself. Sometimes they talk to me because they’re chuffed that they’re being “interviewed” by a journalist. Often, they have a key insight into how things work.
Yesterday I dialled up one of these people, who work for the Foreign Department in Stockholm. I wanted to know more about how Sweden will behave when it comes to Scotland and when it comes to the UK.
I’m afraid I don’t have any good news when it comes to Sweden riding to the rescue. It’s not bad news either. It’s no news at all. Sweden will not make a statement about Scotland until it decides, in a constitutional manner, what it is going to do.
This is about diplomacy. This is about keeping all options open. When the time comes, according to my source, Sweden can’t, directly or indirectly, help or hinder a constitutional process inside the UK. It can neither offer hope to the independents, or offer hope to the unionists. It can’t interfere.
So, Sweden will not interfere with the inner operations of a friendly neighbour, and that is the baseline. That neighbour is the United Kingdom. It will do nothing to aid Scotland preemptively, just as it will do nothing to stop Scotland doing something.
There will be no statement along the lines of “Of course Scotland can join the EU” until Scotland is certain to become an independent state. Also, it won’t say “Of course Scotland can’t join, and it will have to go to the back of the queue.”
However, when the outcome is inevitable, Sweden will be very inclusive and welcoming. Until then it’s a wire-act so as not to piss off a larger neighbour that it will have to keep relations with no matter what, and not to get dragged into a situation where a new independent Scotland feels resentful enough not to maintain good relations with Sweden in the future.