An independent Scotland would face difficult negotiations to join the European Union with existing members extracting "concessions" as a warning to breakaway movements in their own nations, a former top diplomat has predicted.
Lord Jay of Ewelme, who was permanent secretary at the Foreign Office from 2002 to 2006, said he expected Scotland would be allowed into the EU if it cut its ties with the UK.
But, he told MPs, countries like Spain which themselves face independence demands would not make it an easy process.
"My guess would be that after negotiations that are slightly more difficult than Scotland now thinks, it would become a member of the European Union," he told the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.
"But it would be in the interests of other countries who fear the same thing happening - such as Spain with Catalonia - to make life more difficult for them to make clear to their own citizens that this is not an absolute shoo-in if they were to become independent."
He said difficulties could arise in areas such as budgetary affairs and fisheries matters during accession negotiations.
"I think Scotland would join the EU, and others would agree to it, but there would have to be some sort of concessions and I think there would be more difficult negotiations than some at the moment are suggesting."
Asked about the prospects for joining Nato, he said that would also be a "quite tricky" process.
"It's not impossible but again there would be some very difficult negotiations," he said.