David Cameron today summoned Norwegian Ambassador Hårek Hardbalne to Downing Street to demand that Norway makes clear it has no territorial interest in the Shetland Islands. This follows yesterday’s extraordinary announcement by the leader of Shetland Islands’ Council, Leif Erikson, that Shetland planned to hold a separate referendum on independence from Scotland should Scots choose independence from the UK on September 18th.
Dr Erikson said to the press afterwards that Shetland had no real desire to become a separate state but had no real interest in becoming an outpost of the Former UK (FUK) either and would hold talks with their Viking cousins in Oslo to see if the ancient kingdom could be restored.
In an interview with the BBC, ambassador Hardbalne said that he did not wish to comment on the surprise move by Shetland but wished to stress that Norway has always upheld the democratic rights to self determination. The BBC reported that the threat of sanctions and exclusion from NATO already had the Norwegians running scared.
Much of the remaining UK oil reserves lie in waters to the east and west of Shetland that would become fabulously wealthy on a par with Kuwait and Norway should the Scots vote yes and Shetlanders vote yes in the September poll.
A seething Mr Cameron allegedly declared that any vote on Shetland would be illegal and would not be recognised by the FUK. Dr Erikson pointed out that the vote on Shetland would only happen if Scotland votes yes in which case Shetland would then be a part of an independent Scotland and outside the jurisdiction of the FUK and advised Mr Cameron to stop meddling in the affairs of other countries.
Leader of the SNP (Scottish Nationalist Party), Alex Salmond lamented that Scotland was being threatened with a long list of sanctions should the September 18th vote go his way citing the loss of UK currency, UK passports and EU membership. “I’m quite sure if Scotland votes yes that Shetland will also vote to stay with Scotland” he said, and “Shetland, like Norway, has an oil fund. An independent Scotland would use that oil fund to benefit the whole of Scotland and not just a minority of islanders”. Mr Salmond later denied saying this and that his words had been taken out of context.
A spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats said that with all those oil and gas terminals, Shetland has the highest CO2 footprint of anywhere in the UK, whilst Scotland as whole has a low CO2 footprint. Should Scotland vote yes and Shetland remains in FUK then the average CO2 emissions of the FUK would go through the roof making it impossible for the FUK to meet its binding CO2 reduction targets. The Liberal Democrats, therefore, would welcome losing Shetland to Norway leaving Norway with the nightmare of tackling Shetland’s emissions legacy.
Latest opinion polls show 39% of Scots voters in favour of independence and 78% of Shetland voters favouring ties with Norway in the unlikely event that Scotland votes yes on September 18th.
The Telegraph has up to the minute coverage of scenes from Shetland.