The English government’s Navigation Acts of 1660/61
The Navigation Acts, or more broadly the Acts of Trade and Navigation, were a long series of English laws that developed, promoted, and regulated English ships, shipping, trade, and commerce between other countries and with its own colonies
The laws prevented Scotland from trading with England’s colonies in India and the Caribbean and denied Scots the chance to profit from the trade opportunities that English merchants enjoyed cutting off sources of wealth for Scots. Unlike England and some other European countries, Scotland had no colonies of its own so it continued to fall behind in terms of trade.
The scope of the act was surreptitiously extended in 1689, to include France, the low countries and any colony of England or Holland and was enforced by English and Dutch warships patrolling, controlling the high seas, the North Sea and the English Channel.
Scottish ships carrying fish and or other cargo would be stopped and boarded, the cargo confiscated, ships sunk and the crews press-ganged into the English navy.
England effectively placed an embargo on Scotland and enforced it by blackmailing other countries dependent on England’s support at sea and in Europe and the new colonies.
What was particularly galling was that at a time when their families starved at home in Scotland (due to the adverse impact of the embargo) tens of thousands of Scots were forcibly conscripted into and died fighting for the recently formed United Kingdom in Europe under the command of incompetent English generals.
But the ever resilient Scots refused to give up their sovereignty and retained their freedom denying England’s attempts at colonising the country.
The English Alien Act of 1705
The continued resistance of Scots to colonial rule frustrated English politicians whose attentions were increasingly given over to developing its North American interests. Something need to be done to bring the Scots to heel.
The English Parliament’s Alien Act of 1705 speeded up the process of a Union with Scotland with the explicit threat to confiscate all Scottish held estates held in England by non-residents unless the Scottish Parliament entered into treaty negotiations by Christmas Day 1705.
An added threat was that an embargo would be placed on Scottish products being imported into England.
Darien – Money talks
At the time the Treaty of Union was signed in 1707 Scotland had no debt whilst England’s national debt was £18 million.
Article XV of the Treaty granted £398,085 and ten shillings sterling to Scotland – a sum known as “The Equivalent” – to offset future liability towards the English national debt.
But most of the money was used to compensate the investors in the Darien scheme, many of whom were in the Scottish Parliament and then persuaded to support the Union.
A “parcel of rogues” as described by Robert Burns.
It was hardly a voluntary union as it was opposed by all the churches and burghs in Scotland and widespread rioting followed news that the Treaty of Union had been signed.
Article XIX of the treaty contains the words “…that no causes in Scotland be cognizable by the Courts of Chancery… or any other Court in Westminster Hall”. Therefore, it can be argued that the UK Supreme Court breaches the Treaty of Union (Fraser Grant)
The 1707 Treaty of Union
The Union of Scotland and England was achieved by the signing of the Treaty of Union in which the members of the Scottish and English Parliaments (neither democratically elected) agreed to form a new “British” Parliament.
This did not happen as English politicians at Westminster decided that, contrary to the agreement, there would be no new joint Parliament but “the English Parliament continuing” which would incorporate (absorb) the Scottish Parliament.
Since it was the members of the Scottish Parliament that signed the Treaty it is they, now democratically elected who have the right to express the will of the people of Scotland about such matters as whether they wish to withdraw from a Treaty in which almost every clause has been broken. Self-determination is a right under all international laws.
It is of note that the people of Scotland were torn out of Europe despite their vote to remain, and their being told in the 2014 Independence Referendum campaign that only a no vote in 2014 would ensure their remaining in Europe (Susan FG Forde)