A divorce from Scotland would be stupid, wretched and painful

After three centuries of union, England and Scotland are not just woven together by sentiment, but by a cat’s cradle of intricate legal and political ties. Fibre by fibre that would have to be sliced apart, and the result will be agony and endless recrimination.

On Tuesday, the Scottish government will publish a vast White Paper explaining how on earth it is supposed to work. So here are some of the questions I hope that document will be able to settle. We are told that the proposal is that Scotland would keep the Queen as head of state and the pound as the national currency – though presumably both of these commitments could be varied by a future Scottish parliament.

But on what basis does Scotland get to keep the pound? Will they use sterling informally, just as some Latin American countries rely on the dollar? And why should the Bank of England take any notice of Scotland in setting monetary policy? Why should the governor travel to Edinburgh and be interrogated by Scottish MPs? After independence, after all, he will owe his appointment entirely to an English-Welsh-Northern Irish government. Or will Alec Salmond come south, and sit in an ante-room in Threadneedle Street, hoping for an audience?

Then there is the basic question of what this independent state of Scotland is supposed to be, and how it is meant to relate to the rest of the world. We are talking about a secession from the Union of the United Kingdom, and many EU diplomats have now made it clear to Salmond that this is exactly the same as seceding from the EU. If the Scots wanted to remain in the EU (and they seem, for some reason, to think this is necessary) Scotland would have to seek an immediate accession – and the question is: who would conduct the negotiations?

Why should this be done by UKrep, the UK office in Brussels, when Scotland has voted to leave the UK? The Scots would have to equip themselves instantly with a new cadre of diplomats. There would have to be a Scottish foreign office around the world – wouldn’t there? And if not, why not? What about Britain’s nuclear missiles, and the need to use submarine bases in Scotland? What about Scottish regiments in the British Army?

There are endless opportunities for confusion and bickering. Then there is one final point that no one seems to have grasped: that this is not just the end of the United Kingdom. It is the end of Britain. Yes, of course, there will still be an island called Great Britain, the largest in the British Isles. But Britain as a political entity will be annihilated. This very name of our nation only gained currency after the Act of Union, and makes no sense with the top section lopped off and “independent”.

And then what? What happens to British sporting teams? What happens, for goodness’ sake, to the “British” Broadcasting Corporation? Nobody has the faintest idea. I am appalled that the pro-independence vote is up at 38 per cent. We need someone — the Americans? — to step in as a kind of marriage guidance counsellor and tell us to stop being so damn stupid. Divorce will diminish us both. It will be unutterably wretched and painful, and it will eliminate the most successful political union in history.

3 thoughts on “A divorce from Scotland would be stupid, wretched and painful”

  1. i used to work in Edinburgh and Fife, I was married in Glasgow in the late 1960s I was shocked to discover that the well had been poisoned by SNP-inspired hatred of the English to the point that it can only be called racism,as Nigel Farage found. I have cancelled plans to return. Eire becoming independent in 1823 did not weaken the uk, let them go and stop the hatred cancer spreading south. Hadrian was a far-sighted chap.we have had our pockets picked by by these ingrates for far too long. They do not add value to the uk, poor welsh people pay for their conceits. That can only get worse while the Fat Controller remains First Munster. On no account consider a currency deal with these people. perhaps we should anyway rebrand as simply “Britain”? Wales England and Scotland becoming simply convenient regional Geographical terms. The SNP is just as unpleasant as the ENP.Salmond is not like Scotty in the Enterprise, more like Jabba the Hutt but without the charm.

  2. Send for General Wade a man who understood bridges and bayonets, roads and rifles unlike Salmond who is more bread and trifles. Scottish nationalism was always attracted the brown shirted lot and still does, On Independence day we will have the Salmond Yoof mincing down the Royal Mile to the moving skirl of Liberace tracks. Meantime he ethnic cleansing starts in Milngavie and creeps into Bearsden. Their bile and ignorance is scary, like with all Nationalism. Jacobites with zits.

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