On September 18, the Scots will vote on a referendum that could end their 300 year old (approximately) tie to England, well sort of. In the event Scotland goes independent, they’ll still consider the Queen head of state, much like the Australians and other former colonies. But what might an independent Scotland look like?
Immediate Political Challenges
Peter Oborne at the Telegraph imagines the immediate political challenges:
There will be agitation to extend the term of the current parliament to March 24 2016, the date at which Scotland would become fully independent. This manoeuvre has been floated in order to solve the problem of Scottish MPs returning to Parliament after next year’s general election, only to find that their seats at Westminster will cease to exist the following year.
But the general election is unlikely to be delayed – British democracy does not allow governments to extend beyond their natural terms, except during wartime. Another possibility is more plausible: an early general election. David Cameron is adamant that he will stay on as Prime Minister even if the worst happens next Thursday, an erroneous opinion which has been endorsed by Ed Miliband.
If everything goes wrong next week, Mr Cameron will have mislaid Scotland, not a group of largely uninhabited islands in the South Atlantic. I am certain the Prime Minister, an honourable man, will resign at once. If he does not do so, very little time will elapse before he will face a motion of no confidence on the floor of the House. The Conservative Party may then be plunged into a leadership contest. To avoid this kind of chaos, some Tory MPs are now talking of a caretaker – almost certainly William Hague – taking over as Tory leader (and prime minister) for the last few months before next year’s election.
Ed Miliband may also find survival difficult, because the Labour Party must surely bear the bulk of the blame for the loss of Scotland, where the party has traditionally been so strong. And amid all the chaos and recrimination, politicians will be obliged to make a series of administrative decisions of exceptional complexity and sensitivity.
All of these issues will have to be dealt with by a set of politicians reeling with shock at the collapse of many of the landmarks that have given meaning to their lives. The BBC will have to find another set of initials. Sir John Major noted yesterday, during a particularly depressing appearance on the Today programme, that our seat on the UN Security Council will go, and hinted that Wales could be next to secede.
All about the Benjamins
The banking system might pose a challenge as well. According to The Independent, many banks are suggesting withdrawal from Scotland in the event the referendum passes:
Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland, said it had plans to set up “new legal entities” in England if Scotland votes for independence in next week’s referendum.
A statement from the bank, which has been based in Scotland since 1727, said that in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, “it would be necessary to re-domicile the Bank’s holding company and its primary rated operating entity to England.”
It added that the decision would have no impact on everyday banking services, and intends to continue to employ a significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland.
But what does North Korea think?
Kim Jong-un is, “feeling positive” about Scottish independence. Evidently, he’s hoping an independent Scotland would be willing to open up a trade relationship. No response from the Scots on this one though.
The referendum has Big Oil a wee bit nervous
According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas might be on the receiving end of negative backlash if Scotland goes rogue. Not to say that a new Scottish parliament wouldn’t be able to keep the same tax structure in place, but the prospect has producers in Texas nervous:
The chief executives of Europe’s two biggest oil companies urged Scotland to keep the United Kingdom in one piece or risk losing the tax structure that keeps oil operations running profitably in the prolific North Sea.
Oil exploration in the choppy waters between the U.K. and Norway has become a central issue in an international debate over whether Scotland can stand on its own if it breaks its more than 300-year-old link with Great Britain in a vote Sept. 18. Polls show the effort to secede is building steam.
On Wednesday, Royal Dutch Shell and BP joined the fray in which industry experts and political activists have conjured competing pessimistic and rosy forecasts for how much oil remains in the North Sea – a number that could figure prominently in the Scottish vote.
BP and Shell both have scaled back or reorganized in the face of rising global costs, and further disruption associated with a Scottish independence vote could resonate in Houston and Texas, where Shell and BP employ tens of thousands of workers and contractors.
But what do the celebrities think?
Now to what really matters — the celebrity vote. James McAvoy wants you to know that there’s no turning back if the Yes votes prevail:
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