ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Scotland’s Independence Referendum

Could the Kingdom Still Be United?

"Yes" or "no", the September vote on independence for Scotland will change the face of the United Kingdom. A vote for separation will be the result of a peaceful and democratic process, and it will pose questions for what will remain of the "United" Kingdom. Will there be a push by Wales for independence? What of Northern Ireland and its porous borders with Ireland? A vote for union - which polls now say enjoys a majority but which is narrowing - will yet have left Scottish politics revitalised and will lead to greater decentralisation.

The countdown has started. In less than two months, on 18 September, Scotland will vote on a simple but profound referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”. At stake is a 300-year-old union with England and Wales. A “yes” vote would not only see a new, small independent European country born out of an impeccably democratic process but would trigger tough questions and debate in England, Wales and Northern Ireland too, with international reverberations well beyond that.

It looks like being a long, hot and intense political summer in Scotland. For now the “no” side – under the campaign label “Better Together” – is ahead but the lead over the “Yes Scotland” campaign has narrowed since the referendum campaign launched last autumn. An opinion poll1 in mid-July put the no side on 56% to 44% for the yes campaign – the no lead having shrunk over the campaign from 18 percentage points to just 12. A jubilant pro-independence side said it showed they only needed to get a swing of 5 to 6 percentage points to win an independent Scotland, while “Better Together” retorted their arguments were clearly still holding sway.

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