The vote cast on September 18 was one that could have ended Scotland’s 307 year union with Great Britain. The question for Scottish people to vote on was a simple yes or no: Should Scotland be an independent country?
On September 15, six students met in the Commons to debate whether Scotland should split from the United Kingdom.
Brigitte Fink (’16), debated against Scotland seceding from the U.K., believes that the repercussions for Scotland to secede would have outweighed the benefits. “Their secession is just creating a whole array of issues which don’t even need to be created,” she said.
“There would be benefits, and the worries of the Scots are viable and definitely have backing to them. There is no immediate problem and it’s a mutually beneficial relationship and therefore there is no inherent incentive for them to secede.”
When the Scottish National Party (SNP) was elected, one of the key points of their campaign was for Scotland to become independent from the U.K. As a result, The Scottish Independence Referendum Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in November 2013.
Assistant Principal Karen Bonthrone, who was born in Scotland, is skeptical as to whether or not independence from the U.K. was the sole reason the SNP was voted into parliament as the majority. “The SNP, who are currently the leading party in Scottish parliament, has always had this on their manifesto. This is one thing they said they would always do,” she said.
The Act of Union in 1707, which created the United Kingdom by joining Scotland with Wales and England, was already unpopular from the perspectives of the Scots.
Bonthrone believes that this disfavor is because Scots do not feel they are English. “A lot of it is emotional, it is about identity,” Bonthrone said. “That’s one thing you could probably say about Scots, there is that emotion behind it. If you ask a Scottish person, ‘what nationality are you?’ They’ll say ‘Scottish’, they don’t say ‘I’m British’.”
Jack Potrykus (’16), who debated for Scottish independence, understands the emotional reasons for independence. “I think historically they have justification for it [since Scotland was] forced into the union, but that was 300 years ago,” he said.
The last referendums in the U.K. were in 1997, when Wales held a vote for the devolution of power to create the Welsh Assembly. This was followed a week later by a second devolution referendum for the creation of a Scottish Assembly.
The economic and societal repercussions of Scotland seceding from the United Kingdom would not have solely affected the newly independent country. Both banks Llyods TSB and the Royal Bank of Scotland had stated that if Scotland was to secede from the U.K., the banks would shift their head offices to London from Scotland.
At the same time, the pound sterlingbecame weaker leading up to the referendum due to uncertainty of the vote’s outcome. If the results of the poll were that Scotland was to separate from the U.K., the pound sterling would have only fallen further as a result of the uncertainty of whether Scottish currency would continue to be the pound sterling.
One important political outcome of the referendum for the Scottish Parliament is more power from the U.K.-wide political parties. This enlargement of power was contingent on if Scotland voted to continue to be part of the U.K.
The Scottish independence referendum results showed that 55.3 percent of voters were against Scotland seceding from the U.K. Alex Salmond, who led Scotland’s bid for independence, announced a day after the vote that he would step down later this year as first minister of Scotland, and from the SNP.