What if Scotland becomes independent: Some questions

What if Scotland becomes independent
Edinburgh, Sept 18: The people of Scotland will decide whether they will remain in the United Kingdom, a 307-year-old union with England, or emerge as an independent state.

If Scotland becomes a separate country

It will be the 31st independent nation on this planet to have been formed after the Second World War and the 195th overall. Scotland has an area of 78,387 square kilometres and a population of 5.3 lakhs. It will be the 114th biggest country in the world if it becomes independent and its secession will reduce the size of United Kingdom (comprising England, Wales and Northern Ireland besides Scotland) to make it the 92nd biggest country (from 80th currently). Population-wise, the secession of Scotland is equivalent to Texas moving out of the United States of America.

Why the Scotland referendum is happening now?

In 1999, the UK parliament had started devolving some power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Ten years after that, the Scottish parliament sought to make a step further and that is to call for a vote for independence. In 2012, UK Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to the demand for the referendum for it was a on a weaker platform.

The Scottish Independence Referendum (Francise) Act 2013 was passed by the Scottish parliament on June 27, 2013, and in November 2013, the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill was passed, setting out arrangements for the referendum.

Who wants Yes in the referendum

Those who seek an independent Scotland want a direct control over the country's affairs. The Scottish people also tend to be left-minded and are not content with policies embraced by the ruling Conservative Party. Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond believes a free Scotland would be among the top 20 richest nations of the world.

Big names favouring the secession: Actors Sean Connery and Alan Cumming and physicist and former musician Brian Cox.

Who want No in the referendum

The pro-unity voices feel that Scotland would do better in world affairs if it remained in the union and by making use of major platforms like the European Union and the NATO. The pro-unity group also believes that Scotland would be economically better placed and seek benefit of a partnership that has been continuing over centuries.

Big names against the secession: UK PM David Cameron, President Barack Obama, Pope Francis and author JK Rowling.

Queen Elizabeth is officially neutral but has reportedly asked voters to think about it.

How it stands at the moment?

It is a very close call. A poll in early September showed that those seeking independence is slightly ahead but polls held since then have shown the naysayers to be ahead by a few per cents.

What UK leaders are saying about the event?

All three political parties are campaigning for a 'No' vote. Prime Minister Cameron of the Conservative Party, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is a Liberal Democrat, and opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband have been campaigning against the secession. Cameron even said that he doesn't want the family of nations to be ripped apart.

Will Cameron gain or lose?

Cameron might face the music if Scotland indeed secedes for his Conservative Party could begin to re-evaluate its leadership for history would see the incumbent prime minister as one who lost Scotland in the next elections. However, the party might be a gainer in case Scotland becomes a separate country for opponent parties like the Labour and Social Democrats have benefitted from Scotland in the past.

International ramifications:

Relation with the USA: Although the close trans-Atlantic bond between the USA and UK is unlikely to undergo a drastic change, but US President Barack Obama is concerned about his country's nuclear submarines that are located 20 miles outside Glasgow. They form a big pillar of the UK's nuclear deterrent. An independent Scotland may raise an objection over those nuclar bases, increasing Obama's headache. No doubt the latter is in favour of a united UK.

Relation with EU and NATO: Both the European Commission's (EC) outgoing and next president have said that it would be difficult to accommodate Scotland since the EU treaties would not apply to secessionist entities. Scotland would to reply for a membership, said Jean-Claude Juncker, the new president of the EC. An independent Scotland might not find a place in the NATO as well.

What will be the currency of Scotland in case it becomes an independent state?

The Bank of England has not supported the SNP's view of keeping the UK's central bank and currency, the pound, to be its own on grounds of non-compatibility with sovereignty. Salmond has differed saying the pound is as much Scottish as it is English. The final call would be taken by the market trends.

Will Scotland remain a monarchy?

According to Salmond, Scotland would remain a monarchy as long as its people desire. Till then, Queen Elizabeth II, the formal head of the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, will also be the Queen of Scotland.

If Yes wins, when will Scotland's moment of independence materialise?

The political leaders of Scotland have proposed its independence day to be observed on March 24, 2016. The interim period would be used for the formation of the pillars of the new state - the constitution, flag, revenue laws and others.

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