As the referendum in Scotland approaches (Thursday for anyone who has missed it), people living in Scotland (only) will decide whether to leave the United Kingdom. As pro- and anti-campaigns rally their final supporters I wanted to think what might happen on Friday, if Scotland decides to go it alone.
Let me start by saying that my father is from Glasgow although he has not lived there for anything but the first 18 years of his life. The remaining 72 years he has resided in England. So, selfishly I might be able to secure a second passport, if Scotland leaves. I do understand the frustration of people in Scotland which has typically been more left wing than the rest of the UK. A colleague tells a story of going to Midnight Mass one Christmas and getting a lecture about the importance of voting for the Labour Party from the pulpit.
I know that frustrations with politicians is not confined to just Scotland, many people in the UK dislike what the current Government has done. Leaving the Union would be a one-off decision which is probably irreversible and would plunge both Scotland and England/Wales/N. Ireland in to a financial crisis which is likely to unpick much of the recovery we have seen. Living standards for the working- and middle-classes have not recovered anywhere in the UK, not just in Scotland. Scotland will have to establish all of the offices of state which it doesn’t currently have to provide – Embassies, Defence, Vehicle Licensing, Passports, Tax and Benefits offices, Pensions to name just a few.
What happens if the vote is very close at the end. That would mean the decision would fail to represent about half of Scotland – not good news. For England and Wales it might be a new start too – of course we’ll have a Conservative Government for the next 50 years, but that is perhaps the price we will have to pay. There will be extra controls on immigration to and from Scotland. Domestic UK flights will not longer be that – arriving in the Immigration Hall rather than domestically.
Of course, there are a lot of unknowns –
- Will Scotland keep the pound (The Bank of England says ‘No’) ?
- Will Scotland be in the EU (every other member country has to approve) ?
- Will there be border controls on the line between Scotland and England (Labour says ‘Yes’) ?
- Will Scotland have to use the Euro (New member countries to the EU are required to do this) ?
So, dear reader in Scotland, think carefully how you vote on Thursday, what you think you want you may not secure.
Just where will I be living on Friday?