I have always assumed Scotland will stay in the Union. I have defended Scotland’s right to make this decision and have stayed away from their hustings as Conservatives have been advised to do. I would be happy for them to remain in our country.
I have also said we only want them to remain if they are happy to do so and see the value of our union to them. I do not think it right to threaten them with bad things if they vote for out, nor would I shower them with new promises about what it means to stay in. They know what being in means. They are exploring what being out might mean in this referendum.
Given the narrowing of the polls and the sense of panic in some senior Labour statements, it is now appropriate to offer advice to the government of the rest of the UK in the event of a Scottish decision to leave.
The first thing the UK Parliament should do is pass a short Act. This would say that Scottish members of the Westminster Parliament will no longer vote on any matter not applying to Scotland, and will take no part in settling the response of the rest of the UK to Scottish withdrawal. It would also cancel the May 2015 General Election in Scotland. Current Scottish MPs would continue for their residual functions until the split of the kingdoms in completed.
There is no need to delay the General Election in the rest of the UK. The new government for the rest of the UK should be formed from the winners of the election in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The remaining Scottish MPs would be excluded from calculating the majority and would not be eligible to be Ministers. On Wednesday I will discuss the negotiating position I wish to see from the rest of the UK should Scotland trigger the split.