Today, Scotland votes in a referendum on independence. The polls have the “Yes” and “No” camps both neck-and-neck, though the polling companies readily admit we are in unknown territory and the swing to one side or the other may have been massively underestimated.
Outside of the UK, other European Member States will be watching the results closely. In particular, the Spanish government is increasingly nervous that a “Yes” vote in Scotland will encourage some of its own regions, primarily Catalonia (but also the Basque country) to seek independence as well. For this reason, commentators suggest that an independent Scotland may struggle to find Spanish approval if it has to apply to join the EU.
The referendum campaign has focused largely on economic issues, including austerity measures imposed by the Conservative-led government in Westminster (the “Yes” camp argues that the smaller left-leaning Scottish population is constantly outvoted by the English) and the viability of the Scottish economy outside of the union (the “No” camp says there are huge questions around Scottish EU membership and currency Scotland would use).
The economic and political fallout from a Scottish “Yes” vote could be huge. There are hints that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, may find his position untenable and be forced by his own party to resign, while polls suggest that public opinion would be against compromise and would want the government to take a tough line in negotiations with an independent Scotland. In a last-ditch effort to avoid breaking up the union, Scotland has recently been offered a huge package of devolved powers if they vote “No”.
Would Scotland flourish outside of the union? Would independence be a disaster for the Scottish economy? Let us know what you think in the form below, and we’ll take your questions and comments to policy-makers and experts for their reaction!