Unpicking the United Kingdom?


I spent last year ignoring the forthcoming vote on Scotland’s future, as the opinion polls showed strong support for no change to the current position. More recently I have taken an interest, as the polls have narrowed. I  have also commented that the “Better together” campaign is a bit  negative  in some of its content and tone, and might be more successful if it was positive and sought to ally feelings to “facts” about economic matters.

So maybe today I should ask what will happen and what should happen, if the unlikely event occurs and the Yes campaign wins for splitting the UK.

The first thing that should happen is all MPs representing Scottish seats in the House of Commons should withdraw from all business relating to the rest of the UK, especially business relating to the negotiation between the rest of the UK and Scotland. The government should pass a Bill excluding Scottish MPs from rest of the UK business if there is no voluntary agreement to this

The second thing is a negotiating team of senior Ministers should equip themselves to negotiate on a wide range of matters that need settling between the two new countries. This will include splitting the state debts and assets, sorting out responsibility for banks and money, the transition to a new currency for Scotland, the transfer of benefits, pensions and other state liabilities to Scotland for their people, and the trade and border arrangements which will apply following the split.

The third thing is to notify the EU of the need to change our relationship with the EU. Our partners will probably deem the rest of the UK to be the successor state to the UK, but they will want to cut our number of MEPs and our votes around the table. The rest of the UK will need to cut our financial contribution, and may as well regard the exit of Scotland as triggering  a much more fundamental renegotiation of our relationship. There will have to be Treaty changes anyway. It would accelerate the task Mr Cameron has set himself for a future Conservative government, and give rise to an IN/Out referendum on possible rest of the UK membership of the EU. Whilst as a Unionist I would prefer a willing Scotland to stay with us, as an Englishman I can see advantages in being able to sort out this wider EU relationship sooner and from a different bargaining position where England’s view is more central.



  1. arschloch
    April 10, 2014

    Why cannot us Englishmen have a say in the future of the UK? I would definitely vote “YES” to a break up of the UK. Let them go off and form a Pan Celtic Confederation of Independent Socialist States. I would even throw in Liverpool as part of a deal with the Welsh. However I doubt such an arrangement would last for a long time. England would soon be swamped with economic migrants from the North and and the West. As anybody who bothered to work for a living would soon be on the move. Most of their wages would have been taken off them to pay for the Buckfast, Superkings and Mars Bars of others.

  2. Lifelogic
    April 10, 2014

    Well what a mess it will be to sort out. Yet more parasitic government and expensive pointless activity. Cameron was once again foolish to take this risk and also the slippery slop of giving votes to non tax paying and usually non earning 16 year olds’. Another boon time for parasites, politicians, bureaucrats and lawyers.

    A good programme on Radio 4 for once yesterday “Would that work here” about the no fault system of compensation for accident in New Zealand. Anything that get rid of Lawyers’ usually parasitic and damaging activity surely has to be worthy of consideration – certainly for the dysfunctional and in three letters NHS.


    1. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2014

      It seems the government had half a billion pounds to spare on stockpiles of Tamiflu but that it is probably no more effective than paracetamol. It seems they did not bother to check the trial results first.

      Tax borrow and piss down the drain yet again. Is it incompetence or perhaps rather worse one wonders? I supposes it is cheaper than the green energy scam that Cameron is so keen on.

      1. Richard1
        April 10, 2014

        The £600m tamiflu scandal is interesting. We should remind ourselves that the epidemic against which these expensive but apparently useless drugs were supposed to protect us was heavily promulgated by many govt advisory figures who have been prominent in global warming hysteria. An enquiry is needed into the general question of how the govt receives and acts on’scientific’ advice.

        1. Lifelogic
          April 11, 2014

          Indeed if they can push these endless exaggerated scares it gives governments a perfect excuse to waste endless billions of tax payers money. They also find the scientific advice they want by selecting the right types of “scientists” who have similar beliefs & anyway know what is expected of them. Governments simply love scares. Ones that not real problems do not even need to be solved so are preferable to real problems as they can spend billions pretending to then claim the credit.

    2. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2014

      This morning I read they want us all to drive round with “I love the EU” number plates on all our cars or something similar (in tiny electric cars with a range of 50 miles in the cold one assumes and no heat when they run out).

      It cannot be long before we have to have tattoos saying the same on our foreheads with a bar code giving our tax revenue production number one assumes. I do not suppose this will be enough of a transfer of power in order to get us a referendum under Cameron though.

      1. stred
        April 10, 2014

        Don’t worry. Someone will produce a sticker saying ‘SUCKS’ to put under the EU and stars.

  3. Mike Stallard
    April 10, 2014

    I do not want Scotland to leave our country. I want us to stay together.

    But I strongly support local government. I strongly support the idea that England is largely sort of Conservative and Scotland largely sort of Labour. So national politics will in fact be strengthened if we split.

    “The third thing is to notify the EU of the need to change our relationship with the EU.” You betcha! This is the chance we have all been waiting for to renegotiate. All the 20th century dinosaurs will have to die out or else join the rest of us in the new millennium. Flexit, Brexit, and the now fashionable Norway solution will be the natural way for us Brits to go as Europe heads off down the “More Europe” route to a Unitary state.

    It could be the best things ever.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 10, 2014

      You forget that we have a Prime Minister who does not support anything on the lines of “Flexit, Brexit, and the now fashionable Norway solution”, indeed only yesterday at PMQ’s he said that his preferred holiday reading would be Mad Nad’s novel rather than the winning entry in the Brexit competition. Whatever fine things we could imagine happening at the renegotiations would not happen, because Cameron would be doing the negotiating not you or I.

  4. Richard1
    April 10, 2014

    In the event of a Yes The Govt should also pass a bill allowing the Orkney and Shetland Islands a vote of their own on an option to remain in the UK.

    1. Robert Taggart
      April 10, 2014

      What about a return to Denmark ? !

      1. Richard1
        April 10, 2014

        Thats up to the Orkney and Shetland Islanders and the Danes.

      2. Denis Cooper
        April 11, 2014


    2. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2014

      What about the Isle of Wight and Yorkshire?

      1. Leslie Singleton
        April 11, 2014

        Lifelogic–Capitalised again I see assuming you are still lifelogic–Have just read that there are to be mini referenda in Northants on Brexit which I regard as a very positive step indeed. I for one have developed a sort of derision for elected representatives and what they have to say. Unclear to me why we should care what they say and in this day and age we don’t need them. I hope the logistics in Northants work well and that the idea blossoms.

  5. Mark B
    April 10, 2014

    The problem as I see it is, you quite understandably see this from a view point that a Conservative Government will be in office post 2015.

    If there is a Labour Government and, their position is dependent on Scottish MP’s, what then ?

    What if much of the Labour Cabinet is comprised of Scottish MP’s, as has been the case in the past ?

    There are too many imponderables and we are, as both a nation and a member of (spit) the EU (spit) in uncharted waters.

    One thing I believe is for sure. I will not get a say no matter what the outcome and no matter what terms are offered, either with Scotland and the rUK or the (spit) EU (spit). And that, to me, is profoundly undemocratic.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 11, 2014

      Today the Scotsman is telling its readers what they should already know, that people in the rest of the UK would not support a continuing currency union with an independent Scotland:


      “A majority (53 per cent) of people in the rest of the UK oppose the SNP’s proposal, while just 26 per cent would back the move, according to the YouGov survey of more than 1,600 adults.”

      But what the Scotsman cannot tell its readers is that public opposition in the rest of the UK would stop the UK government and Parliament agreeing to it, because as usual we would not be asked and they would do what they pleased.

      So of course it is easy for the SNP to say that it is all a bluff and in the event there would be a currency union, not least when some Tory minister, still not identified and punished, has told the Guardian that there would be.

  6. Old Albion
    April 10, 2014

    Whether Scotland says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ makes little difference to England. If it’s ‘yes’ the union is over.
    If it’s ‘no’ your government will give Scotland ‘Devo-max’ which effectively is independence in all but name (secretly this is what Salmond most wants i believe)
    Whatever the outcome, after September this year the government MUST address the English question.

    1. Robert Taggart
      April 10, 2014

      Signed ‘New’ Albion !

    2. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2014

      Cameron is not is a position to address very much before he goes, having chucked the last election away.

  7. JoeSoap
    April 10, 2014

    How about an immediate referendum in England along the same vein ?
    We would then have the dual benefit of having quit the EU and being in a stronger position to deny Scotland the opportunity of abrogating its responsibility vis a vis its share of the debt.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 11, 2014

      You can’t really believe that Cameron would just stand back and watch while either Scotland or the rest of the UK accidentally dropped out of the EU; what would happen is that he would seek treaty changes to keep us in it, but those treaty changes would almost certainly come at a price.

  8. alan jutson
    April 10, 2014

    Once again John you give sensible comment and thoughts in your post of today.

    Given the above, it will almost guarantee that the Government will not operate in the way you suggest it may.

    Guarantee also that you will not be invited by Mr Cameron to be part of any negotiation team for either the Scotland or EU issues should they ever happen.
    You seem far to sensible and logical for such a task.

    What I really am worried about is if Scotland vote by a small majority to stay as part of the UK, and are then showered with more goodies and power from Westminster as some sort of consolation prize, without at the same time restricting their influence over the rest of the Uk’s affairs.

    At the moment it would seem that Mr Salmond is on a win, win course.

  9. Richard1
    April 10, 2014

    Although like most Conservatives I regard myself as a Unionist, I am wondering what the benefits for us in England are of Scotland staying in, given that Scotland now is over-represented in Parliament, moves UK politics to the left, and is clearly a huge net cost. Global prestige perhaps but is that a good thing? All it seems to lead to is international posturing by UK ministers and the national catastrophes of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently only 5% of Swiss people know the name of their president, and Switzerland is one of the best governed countries in the world. Maybe less global prestige would be a good thing.

    Perhaps we could hear your thoughts on this?

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 10, 2014

      “Scotland now is over-represented in Parliament”

      Nope, the same electoral quota is used in Scotland as in England.

      1. James Matthews
        April 10, 2014

        2011 Census. England – population just over 53 Million. Scotland, population just over 5.3 Million. Number of Scottish constituencies 59. Number of English constituencies 533. Scotland therefore has one MP per 89830 of population. England one MP per 99437 of population (or thereabouts). If it took the same population to elect one MP in both countries either Scotland would have 54 MPs or England would have 590, so by most peoples arithmetic either Scotland is over represented or England is under represented

        1. Denis Cooper
          April 11, 2014

          As explained before on at least one occasion, and I really don’t know why this should be so incredibly difficult to understand, the “electoral quota” refers to those who are actually eligible to vote in UK parliamentary elections, not to the entire population including minors and foreign citizens who are not allowed to vote in those elections.

          Page 1 here:


          “1. Section 86 of the Scotland Act 1998 made a number of changes to the Rules, the effect of which is as follows …

          1.3 Rule 5 was altered: for the first review following the Scotland Act 1998, the electoral quota for England must be used to determine the appropriate number of Scottish seats at Westminster.”

          “Rule 5 states that, for the first report of the Commission submitted under section 3(1) of the 1986 Act, ‘electoral quota’ means the number which, on the enumeration date in relation to that report, is the electoral quota for England (69,934 at June 2001, the enumeration date for our review).”

          Note that this is an average of 69,934 people eligible to vote in each parliamentary constituency in England, not your incorrect one MP per “99437 of population” including those not eligible to vote; it is just laziness on your part to use population numbers.

          “3. The electorate in Scotland at the enumeration date for our review was 3,995,489. A strict division of the electorate by the electoral quota for England would provide for 57 constituencies, rather than the 72 which are presently allocated. At the start of our review, the average number of electors in existing Scottish constituencies was 55,454. On average, therefore, the electorate of constituencies in Scotland would need to increase by approximately 26 per cent to meet the requirement of using the electoral quota for England to determine the number and distribution of Scottish seats.”

          Page 10:

          “20. The implication of the treatment of Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands, of Na h-Eileanan an Iar and of Highland Council areas set out in paragraphs 17 and 19 above has led us to the designation of 59 constituencies instead of the 57 arrived at by strict application of the electoral quota.”

          No sensible Englishman would think that we should break the Anglo-Scottish Union because the greater geographical difficulties in defining UK parliamentary constituencies in Scotland leads to it having 59 seats rather than 57, not least because the defence of England depends in a large part on the UK armed forces having bases in Scotland, including on the Shetlands.

      2. Old Albion
        April 10, 2014

        But most of the work regarding Scotland is done by the ‘Scottish parliament’ Which leaves the Scot MP’s wandering around Westminster with little to do, except interfere in English issues.

        1. Denis Cooper
          April 11, 2014

          Not that canard again, please.

      3. Richard1
        April 10, 2014

        There are far more MPs per capita in Scotland

        1. Denis Cooper
          April 11, 2014

          There are 59 MPs elected in Scotland.

          If the average number of people eligible to vote for an MP – the electors, not including the babies and the foreigners, or for that matter the cats and dogs however human may seem to their owners – was precisely the same in Scotland as in England then there would be 57, see above for the details.

          If you think that 59 is “far more” than 57 then I suggest you get a sense of proportion.

  10. Andyvan
    April 10, 2014

    As an Englishman I would like to know why we get no say in the continuation or ending of a marriage with Scotland. We are the ones that pay for Scottish public sector profligacy, we are the majority partner yet we have no say. What about a referendum on the union as well as on EU membership?
    Lets hope they do vote for Scottish independence. Maybe then we might get some English independence as well. It would certainly stop a repeat of the Brown disaster.

    1. Lifelogic
      April 10, 2014

      Well we have had a Heath, Major, Bliar, Brown & Cameron disaster what is the difference. Even Lady Thatcher gave too much power away to the EU and kept a very large state & inefficient sector and failed to reform the NHS disaster.

  11. John E
    April 10, 2014

    Scotland probably would want to be the EU successor state if the rest of the UK were to leave. So we would need to conclude the EU negotiations and have an in/out referendum before Scottish independence is finalised. If Scotland were to participate in that EU referendum their votes would need to be counted separately.

  12. nigel
    April 10, 2014

    JR: For how long would we have to keep the Scottish MPs? With them gone we might have the chance of a proper Conservative Government!

    1. libertarian
      April 10, 2014


      Nah there is zero chance of a proper Conservative govt. There aren’t enough Conservatives left in the Tory party for that

  13. Elliot Kane
    April 10, 2014

    As a supporter of the Union myself, I have been very saddened by the relentlessly negative nature of the Better Together campaign. It actually reminds me of all the Europhile scaremongering when they have no actual case. They are about one step removed from claiming that the end of humanity is guaranteed if Scotland secedes, which is both ridiculous and embarrassing.

    But then I realised the main problem: it is very hard to articulate a bright and promising future for the UK for anyone who does not actually believe in the UK!

    As Labour, Liberals and Tories are currently all Europhile parties (Well, the leaderships are), the only thing they have to offer is ‘join us as we end the UK together by becoming part of a European Federal Superstate’. If I were Scots, I would not find that a very compelling reason for sticking with the UK, either!

    While it could obviously be said that the SNP’s preferred choice of ‘freedom from the UK; thralldom in the EU’ is laughable, given the choice of seeking thralldom on their own terms or as part of the UK, why should they not seek their own terms?

    In short, as long as Europhiles dominate the Better Together campaign, they simply have no argument, because they have nothing to offer any part of Britain except the end of our existence as a sovereign nation (Or nations).

    Were I Scottish, I think I would vote to secede from the UK in the hope that Scotland really would be kept out of the EU by Spanish fears over Catalonia. Free from the yoke of the EU, Scotland may be poorer, at least until it had found its feet again, but at least it will still exist as a sovereign nation!

    Personally, I want the UK to stick together and leave the EU to pursue our own path, so that we can reach out to the whole world rather than be trapped within a crumbling empire built on the sand of past and long-irrelevant fears.

    That is what Better Together should be offering Scotland: a brighter future together than they could make alone, not foolish scaremongering.

    Sorry for the long winded post, John. Hopefully it’s somewhat interesting, at least 🙂

    1. Chris
      April 10, 2014

      I think your comments about why the No campaign has been apparently so unsuccessful are very astute. You write:
      “…..But then I realised the main problem: it is very hard to articulate a bright and promising future for the UK for anyone who does not actually believe in the UK!
      As Labour, Liberals and Tories are currently all Europhile parties (Well, the leaderships are), the only thing they have to offer is ‘join us as we end the UK together by becoming part of a European Federal Superstate’. If I were Scots, I would not find that a very compelling reason for sticking with the UK, either!”

      I think this is spot on. There is no vision given by Cameron et al of a UK powering its way in the world as a sovereign nation, free from the EU superstate, but instead a depressing vision of being further subsumed by the EU. I believe it is both unrealistic and disingenuous of Cameron to suggest that we can really prosper as an Associate Member of the EU (as proposed in the new EU draft treaty by the Spinelli Group). An Associate Member will be “the prize” that Cameron comes back with from the EU, making it sound as though he has reformed the EU and repatriated powers, but it will be nothing of the sort. It will be a mere tinkering round the edges and it is likely that we would be more shackled than we are now, with more and more integration regulation affecting us adversely and diminishing us, to the point that we would in effect be cowed into submission, and have to join the USE.

      1. Elliot Kane
        April 11, 2014

        I agree with you, sadly. Cameron is an inveterate Europhile and I am sure he will do as much as he can to keep us in, regardless of the cost to Britain. I would not trust him an inch when it comes to the EU.

        Britain is definitely Better Off Out.

  14. The PrangWizard
    April 10, 2014

    A resolution could be put before parliament now to exclude all MPs from outside England when English issues are being debated, there is there is no need to wait for anything, including the outcome of the Scottish referendum, the principle is clear.

    Yet still no clear mention of England’s interests or a parliament for England. England is the paymaster and subsidiser of the UK, but no-one should expect or trust a Unionist to put England first. Don’t be fooled by reference to tough talk, it is a masquerade, appeasement is what they do.

    Much easier too to talk about the EU – but there will be no UK after Scottish independence – it will not exist, there should be no ‘rest of’. To claim so is a another deceit, no doubt with the intention of cobbling something together, like trying to put breath into a corpse. England must be independent, and free too, and a English parliament must immediately be convened; it should be automatic, without it there will be a grave crisis if Unionists try to cling to power on a pretext or concoct some spurious legality to prevent it; in such a case there deserves to be trouble on the streets, the more so if Scottish MPs are still being tolerated in Westminster under whatever guise.

  15. Yorkie
    April 10, 2014

    The negotiations will go like this – Welsh, NIrish MPs negotiating for their people. British MPs pandering to the Welsh & NIrish because they fear them deserting them if they don’t give them preferential treatment and the neighbours know this in advance. Great. The English, who have no elected representatives looking after England’s needs specifically, will get the shitty end of the stick once again.

    Quite frankly, the English are sick to the back teeth of being treated like children who should be seen but not heard.

    1. JoeSoap
      April 10, 2014

      Our host must consider it a step too far to have included anything here about England seceding following Scotland’s lead, but that indeed seems to be the theme of most of the posts in reply. As with the success of UKIP in the polls, posters here are ahead of the politicians in charge. It is blindingly obvious what will happen if there is a Yes vote in Scotland:
      1 Cameron gives more powers to them AND allows them to keep the currency if they vote No in a second referendum on polling day 2015., e.g. they can spend what they like but have their own powers to tax minimally;
      2 The Welsh quickly get wind of this and ask for the same;
      3 Labour landslide because Scotland and Wales are still inside the UK;
      3 Labour make a complete mess of the economy and the partition issue;
      4 Finally there is a demand for an English referendum on secession, which rids us of the EU, Labour and the debts incurred by Scotland and Wales once and for all.

  16. Denis Cooper
    April 10, 2014

    “The first thing that should happen is all MPs representing Scottish seats in the House of Commons should withdraw from all business relating to the rest of the UK, especially business relating to the negotiation between the rest of the UK and Scotland. The government should pass a Bill excluding Scottish MPs from rest of the UK business if there is no voluntary agreement to this.”

    Well, if it’s business relating just to the rest of the UK, and business which if it did relate to Scotland would be decided by the devolved Scottish Parliament and not by the UK Parliament, then Westminster MPs elected in Scotland should not be voting on that anyway, should they?

    So why hasn’t this been sorted out long ago?

    I will add that as I understand it has long been SNP policy that its MPs do not vote on such matters; it has been the Labour party which has stubbornly insisted that its MPs elected in Scotland should be allowed to have casting votes on whether a law should be imposed on England, worrying more about those MPs elected in Scotland being treated as “second class MPs” than about the people in England being treated as “second class citizens”, indeed not even “second class” but more like “third class”, or “fourth class” when the elected assembly in Northern Ireland is operational.

    But if it’s business which relates to the whole of the UK, Scotland as well as the rest of the UK, then that would be different matter. There is no reason at all why a UK citizen resident in Scotland should have less of a say on UK-wide matters than a UK citizen resident in England, for as long as Scotland is part of the UK. Suppose, as an extreme example, that the question was whether UK armed forces should be deployed? Does anyone seriously think MPs elected in Scotland should have no voice on that?

    However I think you’d have to tread very carefully on “especially business relating to the negotiation between the rest of the UK and Scotland”.

    When the Union was formed both sides appointed Commissioners to negotiate the treaty, and clearly if the Union was to be dissolved then there would have to be two clearly separate sides to negotiate the terms of separation and the new arrangements which would be put in place.

    Would the English be happy to see a minister who was Scottish form part of the team negotiating on behalf of the rest of the UK? I don’t think so, wherever he had been elected; which in the case of a Tory minister would of course be in England not in Scotland, as the Scots have largely given up voting Tory, one powerful but utterly disreputable reason why a section of the Tory party would now be very willing to get rid of them by breaking up our country.

    But whatever was agreed through the negotiations would have to be approved by at least one Act of the UK Parliament, probably several in fact; the Bills would be about matters which were all reserved to the UK Parliament under the current UK law, and how could it possibly be right to say that MPs elected in Scotland should be excluded from debating the details of those Bills and voting at every stage?

    I emphasise that I don’t want any of this to happen, and I heartily curse those members of the UK political class, mainly Tories I must say, who have taken us to the point where political divisions across our country have grown to the point where they could now lead to it being broken up.

    1. Iain Moore
      April 10, 2014

      “MPs elected in Scotland being treated as “second class MPs” ”

      A claim which really irritates me, and shows how decadent the British MPs squatting in English Constituency seats are in not challenging this spin.

      If there are any second class MPs it is those representing English seats, for the Scottish MPs, now shorn of most of their accountability as they are mostly legislating on English issues, have under devolution become a mercenary class of MP, where they are used as political shock troops to push through legislation, and no doubt to use their votes to advance their careers, after all they don’t have to worry about anything they are legislating on effecting their constituents, a democratic obscenity that became very clear when Brown marshalled their votes to help push though tuition fees on English students.

      But what really makes me mad as hell is the docile bovine acceptance of this miserable state of affair by British MPs squatting in English constituencies. Do we hear a whimper of protest out of them? No nothing!

  17. Denis Cooper
    April 10, 2014

    “The third thing is to notify the EU of the need to change our relationship with the EU.”

    That is one way to put it; another is:

    “Soon after a “yes” vote Cameron would be in Brussels, probably with Salmond in tow, pleading for EU treaty changes just to deal with the potentially appalling consequences of the impending break-up of the UK.”

    “It would accelerate the task Mr Cameron has set himself for a future Conservative government”

    It would, but it would also reduce him to a supplicant, on his knees begging for EU treaty changes just to accommodate the break-up of the UK rather than to repatriate powers to the UK. And I expect the governments of the other EU member states would agree to do something about that, but some of them would demand a price for their agreement.

    To explain it again: everything we take for granted about free trade and free movement between Scotland and the rest of the UK depends upon the 1707 Treaty of Union, and if that was terminated they would cease to be internal matters and would instead become international matters, and therefore under the control of the EU and dependent on the agreement of the other EU member state governments.

    This is not a prospect to be welcomed or regarded with equanimity; don’t try looking for a silver lining because there is none, the simple truth is that a “yes” vote would devastate Cameron’s negotiating position within the EU.

    1. sjb
      April 10, 2014

      I think the EU aspect of Scottish independence would cause the least problems because it is not in any of the parties’ interests to disrupt the Single Market, Denis.

      1. Denis Cooper
        April 11, 2014

        Of course it would not be in anyone’s interests to have trade interrupted or impeded, but the costs of any such disruption would be much higher both for Scotland and for the continuing UK than for any of the countries with which Cameron would have to negotiate, and the governments of some of those countries have other interests, even existential considerations, to balance against that.

        For example it would have a negative impact on the Spanish economy if Scotland could no longer export a third of its GDP to the rest of the UK, as it does now, and also another chunk to the rest of the EU, and another chunk again to countries around the world under EU trade agreements; but that negative impact on Spain would obviously be very much diluted compared to the catastrophic impact on Scotland itself and diluted even compared to the negative impact on the economy of the continuing UK.

        In the worst case scenario the economy of Scotland would collapse, and while the direct damage to the economy of the continuing UK from the cessation of trade with Scotland would only be at the level of 3% of GDP there would obviously be massive additional indirect damage from having a bankrupt and failed state north of the border; while for Spain that would certainly mean fewer tourists and fewer wealthy pensioners putting money into the Spanish economy, and slightly reduced exports, but nothing like the same scale of damage.

        So it is easy to imagine a Spanish government fighting for the existence of Spain against the threat of secession by Catalonia being minded to carry out its threat of making life as difficult as possible for an independent Scotland just to show the Catalan secessionists what they could expect, even though that would do some limited harm to the Spanish economy, and moreover Spain is not the only EU country which has that kind of concern.

        So while I have no doubt that Cameron could get some kind of agreement to avert that catastrophe – and formally it would have to be Cameron who was seeking it, because at that point technically Salmond would still have no legal standing to do so – the question is what price he, and Salmond, would have to pay to get that agreement.

  18. Roy Grainger
    April 10, 2014

    As it seems there will be a NO vote it is more interesting to discuss what will happen after that outcome – there seems to be a consensus that the Scots will be offered Devo-Max where all sorts of new functions (and money) devolve to the Scottish parliament. Why is that ? Why should anything at all happen after a No vote which can be regarded as a vote to preserve the status quo ? If there are even more inequalities resulting from that (like the current free prescriptions and low university fees enjoyed in Scotland) I would expect English unrest to increase.

  19. Brian Tomkinson
    April 10, 2014

    JR: “It would accelerate the task Mr Cameron has set himself for a future Conservative government, and give rise to an IN/Out referendum on possible rest of the UK membership of the EU.”
    Future Conservative government? Dream on.
    Today’s Telegraph: “Tory vice-chairman fired over Maria Miller criticism. Michael Fabricant sacked over tweet saying it was ‘about time’ Culture Secretary lost her job.”
    That is the party you support – one that defends the indefensible but sacks someone for their honesty. I know that you put party before all else but doesn’t it at least make you feel a tiny bit embarrassed to be associated with such people?

    Reply Mr Fabricant told me he was sacked because he intends to vote against HS2. It has always been the case that you cannot vote against the government and retain a job.

    1. Brian Tomkinson
      April 10, 2014

      Reply to reply,
      Mr Fabricant tweeted: “Been asked to resign as Vice Chairman, refused, so sacked over HS2 and my views on a recent Cabinet Minister. Still available 4 speeches etc”
      Is it normal to sack people before a vote that isn’t due until 28th April? Or perhaps it was because he has tabled a wrecking amendment, which I hope you will support?

      Reply The whips are currently talking to all of us who are against HS2 so it came as no surprise to hear of the Fabricant sacking.

    2. Kenneth R Moore
      April 13, 2014

      Well said Brian Tomkinson. Mr Fabricant’s sacking was a golden opportunity for Professor Redwood to let his feelings be known publically about the misdirection of the Conservative Party and join Ukip in protest.

      At 60 Mr Redwood has a wealth of experience and still enough health and vigour to be a formidable political operator. If he spends the next ten years trying to convince colleagues of his cause (a thankless task since so many of them seem to have foresaken principle, but embrace ‘toadying’ in order to climb the promotional ladder).
      The whole system is rotten.
      For example Greg Knight Conservative ‘Eurosceptic’ Mp has recently been granted a Knighhood for political service – perhaps his doggedness in supporting further EU integration caught the PM’s attention ?.

      I wonder why John Redwood hasn’t been similarly recognised after an arguably more distinguished career ?. Perhaps because of his reluctance to back unpopular pro European decisions supported by Mr Cameron ?.

      Mr Redwood needs to jump out of the bunker with all guns blazing and take on Cameron head on – better to burn out than fade away. A wounding resignation would be a good start then there would be atleast a hope of a properly Conservative force emerging.

  20. acorn
    April 10, 2014

    If Scotland leaves, do you think they will have to change the maps to say “The Remainder of the UK” or “The Lesser Great Britain” 😉 . The way we whine on about the EU, it wouldn’t surprise me if it decided Scotland was the continuing member state. Particularly if they said they would adopt the Euro.

    I suppose we are having a sort of Tartan Revolution, not exactly a Velvet Revolution with subsequent Czechoslovakia type split. This could be a great opportunity for a Vaclav Havel type, turning up to lead a subsequent “England Spring”. Alas I’m dreaming again, more’s the pity.

    The thing is, will this encourage a Welsh Spring? With Scotland gone and a scoping exercise for re-uniting Ireland underway this week at Buckingham Palace; where will this leave little old England?

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 11, 2014

      It would leave your “little old England” as about 85% of the present UK on a number of important measures such as population and GDP.

  21. petermartin2001
    April 10, 2014

    Mr Redwood,

    I’d be interested in your views on ” splitting the state debts and assets, sorting out responsibility for banks and money…….”

    There has been quite a lot of discussion in the media on how Scotland should take responsibility for its share of the National debt. Much of this speculation has been driven by a misunderstanding of what National debts actually are. IMO. I’m not sure that Alex Salmond has understood the situation properly either. He’s saying Scotland can’t afford to do that. But, there been no much less mention of assets. Its good that you haven’t forgotten that there are assets too.

    If we add up all the worlds National debts they total some $57 trillion. So it’s not as if we owe this to Mars! That $57 trillion represents the stored financial assets of all of us.

    Similarly the UK’s ND of $2 trillion represents the same amount of stored assets. They won’t all be held by Scots but some of them will. The UK will hold some of the US’s $17.5 trillion debt too and the Scots will be entitled to their share of that.

    It strikes me that this is really a non-issue when the wider macro-economic implications are understood.

    1. stred
      April 10, 2014

      Presumably, the part of the debt the English should be worried about is the part for which we will be paying interest, no matter who receives the interest. The Scotnats are already threatening to welch on this if they are not allowed to keep the £. Yet most of it was run up by a Scottish PM aided by many Scottish civil servants. Even the chief of staff who ordered the two aircraftless aircraft carriers was called Jock. Now we have a PM with Scottish roots bending over to give them anything they wan’t if they stay.

      The English MPs should vote to hold back any sharing of UK assets until payment for Scottish share of the debt is recieved in installments.

      1. petermartin2001
        April 11, 2014

        “The English MPs should vote to hold back any sharing of UK assets”

        I’m not sure that’s really possible. The assets are essentially what the money was spent on. If that asset was a road or a hydro-electric project they aren’t that easy to repossess!

        All countries have a National debt. Even Norway, which has so much oil money that it doesn’t know what to do with it, still has, by choice, a ND of about $160 billion.

        Scotland will end up with a similar sized National debt by mutual agreement. Like Norway Scotland will need its National debt! If Alex Salmond doesn’t understand how it all works, which may well be the case, he’ll need to be sat down with someone from Treasury who’ll explain it all to him.

  22. Kenneth
    April 10, 2014

    Splitting with Scotland will be very good news all round for the remainder of the UK. Apart from the prospect of an earlier eu referendum and reduced eu contributions we will no longer face the prospect of socialist governments, allowing our youngsters to find jobs and finally do something to help the poor and needy in our society.

    We can look forward to a return to free markets and free people.

    Oh, and I am a unionist too. After a few years in communist/socialist wilderness, the Scots are likely to come back to the fold.

    The main thing though is that we always should stay best of friends. I like the Scots.

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 11, 2014

      Totally deluded on every front!

  23. Robert Taggart
    April 10, 2014

    Hoping the Scots vote Yes – for the sake of England !
    But, fearing they will vote No – a new constitutional arrangement for the UKGBNI would be required – for the sake of England !!
    The ‘F’ word would have to be faced up to – and this gives England its best chance for over three hundred years – to assert itself once again.
    Legislation at ‘the mother of parliaments’ would have to be untangled vis-à-vis British and English. This would not be so difficult if the three devolved legislatures were all set on an even footing. The English constituency MP’s would then be able to bar all others from participating in English only legislation. England would have, albeit by default, its own devolved legislature. This will also save English taxpayers a fortune ! (The other devolved legislatures should be forced to tax their electorate – for the cost of their democracy).

    This does not though solve the problem of Celtic ‘Carpet-baggers’ ! That would be down to individual constituency parties – unless the English have the sense to legislate otherwise.

    Also, with a new federal constitutional set up – would the UKGBNI still exist ? Could a UB (Union of Britain) not come to pass ??

  24. Theresa Wilson
    April 10, 2014

    (unpleasant remarks about the North of England ed) England should be from the Bristol channel across to the Wash. etc

  25. James Matthews
    April 10, 2014

    I can wholeheartedly endorse the majority of this post, especially the third paragraph

    I would add, however, that the ministerial negotiating team should not include anyone with strong ties to Scotland of blood, money or affection. That would of course exclude our present Prime Minister, notoriously proud of the “Scottish blood” in his veins.

    Much of the post should also be applied in the event of a no vote if, as seems pretty much certain, this results in further powers being passed to the Scottish Parliament (which will no doubt mean that we have to go through this whole destructive process again in not very long – on the whole it would be better for the rest of us if Scotland were to go now, rather than prolong the agony).

  26. Peter Davies
    April 10, 2014

    If Scotland go, let them become the EU successor state – there you go problem solved!

  27. oldtimer
    April 10, 2014

    Your suggestion that the government should be well prepared for a Yes to independence vote is a sensible precaution. Are we to conclude from your post that little or no forethought has been given to this possibility?

    If a vote for Scottish independence is indeed the outcome, it would provide the opportunity for a much earlier, more radical, assessment of the rest of the UK`s relationship with the EU. Fundamentally the UK would cease to exist. Its status, as a member of the EU and all other intrnational institutions, would surely cease. The new entity would need either to reapply for membership or to agree the basis for an effective transfer of the former UK`s status to the new entity. It is entirely possible to imagine circumstances in which such a seamless transfer of status could or would be opposed by other countries. For example some might object to the new, reduced entity remining a member of the UN Security Council. Has this been thought through?

    1. Denis Cooper
      April 11, 2014

      Nope, the continuing UK would continue to be a party to all the treaties agreed by the present UK, including the EU treaties. In contrast Scotland would not be a party to any of those treaties unless and until it became a new party in its own sovereign right, which in the case of the EU treaties would involve getting the agreement of all the other EU member state governments.

  28. British Nationalist
    April 10, 2014

    I think the real challenge would be persuading the Scots to accept their fair share of the national debt. It is likely to be far more expensive for them to service debt than it is for the UK (due to having no credit history.) They may need to issue debt in currencies they don’t control, ie either euro or sterling debt, with no option to print more when needed.

    The new nation risks starting hobbled and impoverished, with its tax payers leaving for a less onerous situation in England or elsewhere.

  29. John S
    April 10, 2014

    The negotiations, in the event of a vote for Scottish independence, should take place before the vote, not after. I can see a huge argument in the offing with Alex Salmond bleating on about the unfair English demands imposed on the Scottish people. Otherwise, independence: “Bring it on!”

  30. Vanessa
    April 10, 2014

    Sadly, I do want Scotland to vote “yes”. They were a bankrupt Kingdom when they joined some 300 years ago and I have no doubt they will be bankrupt very soon after leaving.

    I wonder whether England or more accurately, perhaps, Britain with only one Kingdom, (Northern Ireland is a Region and Wales is a Principality) we would, ourselves, need to renegotiate our membership of the EU? Perhaps we could take this opportunity to leave as there is no country called Britain or England which is a member of the EU only the UK.

    Interesting thought ?

  31. mike
    April 10, 2014

    so if they leave which MPs and Lords would we be able to eject from the Westminster trough?

  32. Atlas
    April 10, 2014

    Your ”devil in the detail” analysis indeed shows the issues ahead if the Scots vote to go.

    For what it is worth: I remember being suprised by a Scotsman I knew in the 1960s talking and wishing for home rule. Clearly there is a long head of steam for home rule that predates Thatcher’s Scottish Poll Tax disaster – a disaster that was evidently the last straw for many.

    1. Excalibur
      April 11, 2014

      For what it is worth, I remember being similarly astonished in 1948 when I joined the services as a boy. The extreme nationalism of the Scots was a complete surprise to me. A lengthy trip on a troopship full of Cameronian soldiers convinced me they are all barbarians !! We will be well rid of them.

  33. Chris S
    April 10, 2014

    At last a sensible, senior politician is addressing these issues.

    We have been sleepwalking towards a constitutional crisis as it is looking increasingly likely that the SNP is going to win the referendum. Largely, is should be said, because Cameron and co indulged the SNP by allowing a referendum without agreeing the terms of Independence first. I posted a piece on this very subject yesterday on the Telegraph :

    “It is becoming increasingly obvious that by indulging the SNP by allowing a referendum without clearly defining the terms of the divorce first, the Westminster politicians have done a huge disservice to both the Scots and the citizens of the rest of the UK.

    Scots are being asked to vote completely in the dark with no idea of what they are to be faced with : how can they when the Eu and London are saying very clearly and with one voice that it will be difficult or impossible for Scotland to join the EU and there will be no currency union. The SNP are simply responding by saying the EU and the English are bluffing !

    What kind of way is this to run a country or two ?

    From the English side of the border, we have no say whatsoever yet now we are being told that we might have to take on and repay Scotland’s share of the national debt and nobody ever explained the risk to the pound of a currency union where an extravagant left wing Scottish Government will very likely carry on writing cheques and we have to pick up the bill !

    The Scots, of course should ultimately be allowed to decide their own fate but surely every stake holder in the affair should be entitled to have a say on the terms ?

    The terms of an Independence agreement should therefore have been decided first and all parties should have been given an opportunity to vote on it : The whole of the UK on the terms of the agreement and then the Scots on whether to accept it.

    Due to ineptitude on a massive scale in London, I now reckon the Nationalists will win. We will then be faced with a General Election in which Labour will probably win only because of the presence of Scottish MPs who will then go on to have an undue influence on the negotiations of the deal.

    This is the nightmare scenario that Westminster politicians of all three parties will have to deal with and they will have precious little time to sort the mess out.

    If the result it a Yes vote for independence, how can the current position at Westminster possibly be fair, equitable or constitutional ?”

    I would be confident that, whatever the outcome, we will reach a reasonable settlement for England if it were not for the looming presence of Labour.

    If Miliband wins the General Election, we cannot trust the Labour party to negotiate a fair settlement for England, whatever the outcome of the referendum.

    They will always have one eye on their electorate in Scotland and will seek to ensure that they are generous so that they have a chance of defeating the SNP in future Scottish elections. As a result, if it’s to be Devomax will be loaded in favour of Scotland and Labour will have no interest in giving England equal devolution as they are unlikely to carry a majority here.

    If it’s Independence, again, will Labour ensure we are not left with all the debt and a less than equitable share of oil revenues from the North Sea ?

  34. margaret brandreth-j
    April 10, 2014

    Sounds like one very nasty divorce to me and way to get rid of the baggage , so we can assert our independent position.

  35. Monty
    April 10, 2014

    “The government should pass a Bill excluding Scottish MPs from rest of the UK business if there is no voluntary agreement to this”.

    I would have thought that a Yes vote for independence ought to make all of the Scottish seats redundant, and constrain the rest of Parliament to addressing only those matters which have no effect on Scotland, with the exception of the negotiations on the split.
    Surely this thing would be so enormous, that all other parliamentary business (except Defence of the Realm and the Budget), would have to be on hold?

  36. ian wragg
    April 10, 2014

    I see Cameroon has launched the Euro Election manifesto, what a load of garbage. The points of negotiating are vague and meaningless. Does he really think we are so stupid. Why supporting the membership of Turkey. Is the man mad.

  37. Jagman 84
    April 10, 2014

    How was the Irish republic “divorced” from the United Kingdom in 1921? I would assume a similar procedure would be required for a Scottish exit. The United Kingdom was legally formed by the 1801 Act of Union, not the 1707 act. Repeal of the 1801 act would possibly result in most of the legislation since 1801 ( European Communities Act 1972, income tax, anyone?) becoming null and void!

  38. Leslie Singleton
    April 10, 2014

    Having just read that Cameron is seeking to criticize UKIP for not bothering to vote in the EU, all I can say is that he has got it wrong again. Apart from anything else, he doesn’t seem to understand that deciding not to get involved, and to be voted on that position accordingly, is very considerably different from not bothering. We’ll’ see what people think next month; and, again, let’s pray for a serendipitous by-election shortly after.

  39. Richard
    April 10, 2014

    I think it is a mistake to think that Scotland becoming independent would enable England either to improve its relationship with the EU or even to leave the EU all together.

    This because the rules will be made by the EU and the decisions by our Lib/Lab/Con leaders, all of whom wish us to remain in the EU come hell or high water.

    The EU will say that the entity which signed the treaties no longer exists and both Scotland and England will therefore need to reapply for membership.

    England will not have an EU in/out referendum, even if there are major treaty changes or transfers of powers to Brussels, as the Lib/Lab/Con leaders will say a referendum was promised to the whole of the UK and not to England.

    In order to be able to rejoin the EU rapidly, our Lib/Lab/Con leaders will agree to England losing its opt-outs and rebates and will say we must immediately join the Euro. All of this will be deemed urgent and necessary to avoid the immediate loss of 3 million or more jobs

    This would explain why the “Better Together” campaign does not look like it wants to win.

  40. Chris S
    April 10, 2014

    Anyone who believes our future lies within the EU should read the summary in this document :


    Yes, a whole group of economists are seriously proposing :

    A Huge increase in the EU Budget
    An orderly rise in wages AND
    A reduction to a 30 hr working week with no loss of pay
    Speculative Economic Activity be banned
    Political Control over the ECB and it’s aims directed towards Social & Eco goals
    Radical harmonisation of taxation, a FTT and flat tax regimes in Eastern Europe banned
    Equal social insurance for all workers, universal labour laws
    EU wide Financial support for universal healthcare and benefits
    Simply unbelievable control over industry worthy of North Korea but with Huge Eco costs
    Trade Protectionism so restrictive it precludes a bilateral trade agreement with the US !

    1. Chris
      April 11, 2014

      Thank you for this. Erosion of our sovereignty and handing over of our powers are happening almost daily, but with the step by step approach the public is hardly aware and MPs say very little. There is certainly no agenda in government to inform the public about what is happening, but instead we are treated with contempt with “reassurances” that a referendum lock promise will protect us. This has been demonstrated by many individuals who comment, and back up their posts with evidence from Hansard and EU documents, to be an empty promise apparently.

  41. con
    April 11, 2014

    John: is this a fair assessment of the likely situation in the event of a ‘yes’ vote in the Scottish referendum?


    Reply I do not have time to study all of this.I have set out what I think will happen post a Yes vote.

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