Scottish citizens will vote on whether to split from the United Kingdom on Sept. 18, and some surprising polls at the weekend have shown that Scottish independence is a real possibility for the first time.
The referendum votes will be in by 10 p.m. local time that day. Though the Scottish government has not announced when those results will be revealed, we're likely to know the result in a matter of days. If the U.K. does split, it would likely do so in March, 2016.
See also: Disunited Kingdom: The Clash Over Scotland's Independence
In the days leading up to the vote, pro-independence and pro-union sides have tried to control the narrative behind the cons and pros of an independent Scotland. We've outlined some of the more prominent arguments below.
1. The Scottish aren't sure what currency they would use
Scottish politicians want to keep using the pound if they gain independence. But London politicians are not keen on that idea, meaning Scotland could be a country scrambling to find a currency — which would cause economic turmoil.
“The Scots seem to have no plan ‘b,'" Reginald Dale, a former Financial Times European affairs reporter, told Mashable.
2. An uncertain future for the U.K. means uncertain financial markets
The polls showing majority voter support for independence have already devalued the pound and caused a downturn on the London Stock Exchange. The pound dropped 1.3% against the American dollar and 1% against the euro on Monday, and is now at its lowest value in 10 months.
3. A separate U.K. and Scotland will likely have less international clout
A divided U.K. would be a weaker member of NATO and would cause a "huge blow to Britain's political weight," according to Dale, who is now a senior fellow with the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
And Scotland would have almost no international standing to start with. The new nation would likely have to reapply to enter the European Union, which is not a sure bet because many European governments are dealing with separatist movements of their own and would rather not legitimize the Scottish government. That's according to Nicholas Dungan, a transatlantic relations expert with the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan think tank.
4. Other separatist movements in Europe would gain momentum
The Spanish government is "terrified" of the Scottish National Party, Dale says. It is dealing with a strong separatist movement in Catalonia, and is afraid that a win for Scottish independence would make it harder to ignore Catalonian calls for a similar referendum. Belgium also has independence-minded Walloon politicians that may be emboldened by a win for Scottish nationalists.
5. Businesses may leave Scotland
Should Scotland become its own nation, it may quickly find itself trying to develop its own currency, weaning off British subsidies and fighting for E.U. membership. Those three things are a recipe for economic instability, and Dungan said many businesses may move away from Scotland long before the fledgling nation can stabilize.
1. Scotland would completely control its political destiny
Scottish politicians have long claimed that their territory's resources have been used to benefit England more than the people of Scotland, and that Scotland has had too little say in its own governance. A vote for independence would put those arguments to rest.
2. Scotland has a different political identity
The center of politics in Scotland is further to the left than it is in England. The Conservative party exists in both kingdoms, but in Scottish govvernment it has practically no seats (15 out of 129 in Holyrood, the Scottish parliament; 1 out of 59 Scottish MPs at the House of Commons in London. Yet the Scots find themselves governed by a majority Conservative government at Westminster.
Their different political agendas would no longer be at odds if the territories were governed separately. Scotland would be able to set its own tax rates, have more control over nearby oil reserves and would be able to compete with England for investment from nations such as the United States, according to Michael J. Geary, a modern Europe and E.U. professor at Maastricht University in The Netherlands.
3. Scotland would be able to utilize its oil reserves
The North Sea is home to 30 to 40 years of consistent oil revenue; much of that oil would belong to Scotland were it to become independent. Scottish politicians have argued that London has used Scottish oil reserves for its own benefit, and that Scotland could use oil wealth to build its economic independence.
Some experts, point out, however, that an economy based largely on oil would be too subject to oil's price fluctuation.
4. No more nuclear weapons in Scotland
The United Kingdom's stock of nuclear missiles resides in Scotland, and the SNP is resolutely anti-nuke. Should Scotland become independent, the party has said that the nuclear weapons would need to be moved to England by 2020.
Even if Scots decide to remain a part of the U.K., their push for independence may have already secured greater autonomy. Rattled by the increasing possibility of separation, British politicians have offered their Scottish counterparts more fiscal independence, better control over welfare rates and other incentives if Scotland votes against independence.
Whether the U.K. as we know it comes to an end on Sept. 18 remains to be seen. But issues concerning greater autonomy in Scotland aren't going away. So if Britain remains intact next year, this debate is likely just getting started.
Scottish Independence Essay
Scottish Independence and the
A general overview of the upcoming referendum on Scottish Independence.
Described as Scotland's "biggest choice since 1707" (McLean et al, 2013, p. ix), the upcoming referendum on Scottish independence will provide a pivotal event for the current and future populations of Scotland as voters get the opportunity to decide whether or not they are to remain a part of Great Britain or become an independent nation. As McLean et al (2013) have referenced, 1707 was a year of major importance in Scottish history because it saw the passage of the Union with England Act by the Parliament of Scotland, thus legitimising the reciprocal Union with Scotland Act which was passed by its English counterpart the previous year (Davis, 1998). The Acts of Union have now stood for more than three centuries and, although there have been proposals to challenge it in recent years, this is the first time that the Scottish public have been given the opportunity to vote on the issue in a formal referendum. This essay will examine the issue of Scottish independence by providing an insight into the historical and political events that have led to the 2013 proposal to hold a referendum on the issue. It will also look in depth at the campaigns for and against Scottish independence in order to assess the approaches that each one has taken in order to sway voters towards their individual cause. This will ultimately facilitate the drawing of the conclusion that Scottish independence has the propensity to fundamentally alter the political landscape of the entire international community rather than being limited to a British and European context. However, although both campaigns relating to the referendum are fundamentally flawed, the choice made by the Scottish people will decide the nation's fate for the foreseeable future.
Although this referendum is the first in/out vote to be held in relation to Scottish independence in the 21st century, votes have previously been held over the issue of devolution. In both 1979 and 1997, Scottish devolution referendums were held with varying outcomes (Deacon, 2012). In the 1979 case, the yes vote did gain a majority but failed to attract 40% of the total electorate and therefore failed to achieve change (Dardanelli, 2006). However, in the 1997 referendum, there was clear majority support for both devolution of the Scottish Parliament, which was achieved in the Scotland Act 1998, and Parliament establishing the base rate of income tax (Dardanelli, 2006). In both instances then, there was significant support for the devolution of Scotland and important powers. As such, sovereignty has been an issue for...
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