Tag Archives: Europe

The United Kingdom survived. Intact?

Today’s the day after the big day. Yesterday was the day that was to make history. A referendum concerning Scottish independence was held. Scots had to decide whether they still want to be a part of the United Kingdom or want to leave the union and become sovereign. This is one really important question, so it is not a surprise that more than 80% of population went to cast a vote and say ‘aye’ or ‘not’. And as most polls showed the opinions cut almost evenly in half – nothing was certain until today’s official statement.

First, let’s ask why does Scotland even want to be independent? Being under British rule since 1707, the first independence ideas has been around since late XIXth century. But the current situation is mostly triggered by the 2011 election of the Scottish National Party. The whole campaign was accompanied with heated debates, politicians making promises and statements and ended yesterday – at ballot. In my view, the details of what will happened after secession was too unclear and uncertain for it to become true. People mostly was lead by their feelings not by the real situation of the Northern part of the island.

When I was talking to a Scotsman about a month ago, he said a similar thing – that Scottish independence is very beautiful and romantic idea that will never work in practice. But there are advantages of such an event. Even if all time I spend in Scotland was rather fleeting, I managed to get a glimpse of how this nation is distinctive from others. They have their own accent, culture, attire (these kilts…) or food just as any other one. They seem to be rather unfriendly towards British people indeed (but not everyone, as it is now presented in media!). And I did try to pay  pounds issued by Scottish bank in London. I do not recommend it to anyone.

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The famous Scottish Highlands, so different than London's cityscape

Our continent faces a lot of problems – the crisis in Ukraine or the position of Great Britain in EU (!).. Right now, the situation of Europe is very unstable and the consequences of independent Scotland could be very disadvantageous. Not only we cannot be sure of its position in EU and NATO – most likely it would have to apply to be admitted just as any other country, but also – and in my view more importantly – it could have triggered an avalanche effect. There are many regions that waited only for the outcome if today’s referendum – the Basque Country, Catalonia or Silesia. And creating more little countries with little power will seriously diminish the political unity of whole continent. To say nothing of Great Britain – had the Scotland seceded, Great Britain would probably have lost the permanent seat in the Security Council. Overall, the influence and importance of UK would be seriously diminished. That’s probably the reason why David Cameron promised Scots even more autonomy if they don’t vote yes at referendum.

Today’s a memorable day. For some great one, assuring that UK is still union of four countries, for others it’s a day of grief and lost hopes for possible better future. Unfortunately, there are always winners and losers. How will it affect relations between these two nations? We will see.