World baffled by Scottish independence drive

The rest of the world is baffled as to why Scotland might vote to quit the United Kingdom, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Thursday.

Supporters of Scottish independence are "deeply misguided" to think the country would do better on the world stage, Hague said in a speech in Edinburgh.

He said Scotland risked losing membership of the world's sixth-largest economy, NATO and the EU; representation at the G7, G8 and G20; a permanent UN Security Council seat, and an influential diplomatic network.

Scotland will hold a referendum in September 2014 asking: "Should Scotland be an independent country?". Voting yes would break up the political union with England, which dates back to 1707.

"Travelling from Afghanistan to Brazil, and from Canada to Australia, I encounter bafflement that anyone would try to break up a union that has been so resilient, so successful and so admired as ours," Hague said.

" When outsiders look at the United Kingdom, they see one of the world's most successful examples of stable democratic government, economic development and diplomatic influence."

"They speak in awe of our institutions, our civil service, and our legal systems.

"They admire the richness and diversity of our culture, language, history, sport and traditions, and indeed we were ranked number one in the world for 'soft' power in one recent global survey.

"So there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that, seen from overseas, the United Kingdom is greater than the sum of its parts."

Hague said an independent Scotland would have to apply to join the European Union, with all member states -- some of whom may wish to send a message to their own independence-seeking regions -- having to give the green light.

Scotland would be expected to sign up for the bloc's Schengen open borders area and the euro currency.

"The United Kingdom is one of the few nations in the world with the global reach and influence that means that we can 'turn the dial' on major global issues," said Hague.

An Ipsos MORI telephone poll of 1,001 respondents for The Times newspaper in May put support for independence at 31 percent, with backing for the status quo at 59 percent.

A spokesman for Scotland's External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf said Hague's comments were "insulting and patronising".

"There is huge goodwill towards Scotland across Europe and around the globe, and an independent Scotland will be warmly welcomed onto the international stage."