Freedom of Information Request Reveals Westminster’s Global Lobbying Against Independence


Downing Street has lobbied Vladimir Putin to help Westminster in the independence referendum, according to The Sunday Herald and Russian news agency Itar-Tass.

This diplomatic offensive – aimed towards the G8 June summit – follows previous meetings between Cameron’s administration and the right-wing Spanish Government designed to undermine Scottish and Catalan independence.

This information – almost certainly leaked from the Kremlin – was a rare glimpse into how Westminster is horse-trading influence in attempts to undermine Scotland in 2014. Very little is known of Westminster’s global lobbying against Scotland as the Foreign Office has refused to answer freedom of information requests in full.

Freedom of information reveals embassies briefing

A freedom of information request provided to National Collective revealed the extent to which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been briefing embassies across the world against independence.

There had been 8 diplomatic telegrams and ‘scripts’ sent to UK embassies in the first 7 months of 2013 (see document at foot of page). This included “General lines on the referendum” and a “Core Script” which were “sent to all posts”. The “Core Script” confirmed that the Foreign Office is briefing governments across the world on the independence referendum – but they refused to provide any details on the nature of these communications. This is despite the significant public interest in knowing Westminster activity in relation to the referendum. These are – after all – diplomatic networks that are supposed to represent Scotland.

With few details available on internal communications, Westminster is unlikely to willingly divulge attempts to pressure other governments. However, shreds of evidence exists.


National Collective previously shared the statement from U.S. diplomatic expert Carne Ross, that

recently all British embassies were sent instructions to lobby host governments against Scottish independence“.

This statement was made on the 17th of July 2013. The information reply from the Foreign Office confirms that “General lines” on the referendum were sent to all UK diplomatic posts on the 1st of July 2013.

Westminster’s attempts to gain favour with Russia and Spain are now in the public domain. But what other lobbying has Westminster conducted that remains secret? And is it right that UK services should try to undermine Scotland’s international position, in the manner the Russian leak demonstrates?

Cameron and Westminster’s campaign against Scotland

David Cameron’s government is doing all he can to hang onto Scotland at home and abroad and this is perhaps no surprise. Westminster is desperate to maintain control over Scotland’s finances, military assets and natural resources as they are crucial to the UK’s international power, such as Westminster’s position on the UN Security Council and retention of nuclear weapons at Faslane.

The real shock is that Cameron has been so duplicitous in presenting his motivations. Recently Cameron stated that the independence debate

“should be between people in Scotland”.

This was his excuse for refusing to defend Westminster’s record in a debate with Alex Salmond.

The recent Russians revelations make Cameron’s claims laughable: Westminster and its Tory-led Government are leading the No Campaign, and as the leader of the No campaign, he should debate with Alex Salmond.

Revealed: 5 ways David Cameron is influencing Scotland’s Referendum, despite claiming that it should be between Scots.

Michael Gray and Ross Colquhoun
@grayinglasgow and @rosscolquhoun

National Collective

Freedom of information documents


 FoI request


response to FoI


To download the full reply to the Freedom of Information request click here.


About Michael Gray

Michael studies politics at the University of Glasgow. He admires creativity, optimism and education. He desires peace, social justice and good parties.

There are 10 comments

  1. Steve Bowers

    it just gets worse and worse, is there no level these people won’t stoop too to keep us under their heel and drain the resources from our lands

  2. Malcolm McCandless

    It has to be recognised that as a consequence of this lobbying Scotland’s good name and relations abroad, and the efforts in maintaining those are being threatened by the UK government and by it seems consular staff.

    In pursuing this political approach overseas it must be a huge concern that much needed foreign investment and the prospect of hosting international events, with the resultant jobs, could now be put at serious risk.

    If the UK government or consular staff cannot be trusted to uphold Scotland’s interests abroad, as this FOI request suggests, then it beholding on Scots to do so themselves. Only a YES vote can do that now.

    1. Ultan Miller

      Consular staff are acting in the interest of the UK. It is, after all, in the interest of the UK for it to stay together, which means they are doing what they are meant to do.

  3. ShirleyKnott

    Oh my — only today I decided to browse some of the German media (across the political spectrum) on the subject of Scottish independence and was so struck by the amazing similarity of the articles with their boiler-plate BetterTogether “talking points” that I actually wondered whether the foreign office / diplomatic corps might be feeding them press releases.
    Well, wonder no more!
    The articles I read had little or nothing to do with “investigative journalism”, let alone anything even remotely resembling independently formed (and therefore contrasting) political viewpoints.
    This article merely heightens my initial suspicions.
    Anybody else on here with other foreign language skills feel like checking out the media in some other countries to see whether the pattern is the same?

    1. DavidS

      Shirley, could you provide some links to the articles you mention which mirror the content of the talking point documents attached to this article? I’m looking for evidence that these documents are indeed being fed out internationally

  4. Mike Yeomans

    The FOI papers do not even come close to saying what this article claims they do.

    They state:
    x) The UK regards it as a matter for the Scottish people;
    x) That
    some things like NATO membership is v. straightforward but that EU
    membership is not sure and complex; that the UK won’t negotiate for
    independence before the vote has actually occurred (as other bodies have
    x) That Westminster regards union as beneficial – but doesn’t go into a massive thing about it.

    This article really manipulates the truth.

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