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15 Questions That Follow If Scotland Votes For Independence

Last Updated: Friday, May 9th, 2014

  1.  Will the Prime Minister resign – as a matter of honour because Scotland has been lost on his watch?
  2. Will he be forced to resign even if he is unwilling to do so?  46 letters of no confidence in him from Conservative backbenchers are required for a ballot of confidence in his leadership to be held.  There is a core of perhaps 20 Tory MPs who are viscerally hostile to his leadership.  Will others who aren’t antagonistic none the less call on him to go, on the ground that his position was no longer tenable?  If so, will there be enough of them, plus the 20, to force him out – with or without a no confidence vote?  What will Cabinet Ministers say?  Will there be Ministerial resignations?
  3. If the Prime Minister resigns, who will take over as his replacement?  A Conservative, surely – but which one?  Will George Osborne not be too compromised by his intervention in the No campaign over sterling, which will surely be seen to have failed?  And as a future Tory leadership contender, will he be acceptable to his colleagues?  Will any of the other potential contenders, such as Theresa May, be acceptable either?  Will the replacement be a man whose Prime Ministerial ambitions are believed to be exhausted, but who once was only a general election away from the post – William Hague?
  4. What about the Conservative Party itself?  Under its rules, there will have to be a leadership election if Cameron quits as Tory leader as well as Prime Minister?  But would the Party really hold a potentially damaging and divisive contest only six months or so out from the general election itself?  Wouldn’t it be better for the new Prime Minister to be elected as Tory leader unopposed?  But would the Conservatives have the discipline to pull off such a manoeuvre?
  5. What will happen to sterling and the markets?
  6. Regardless of whether Cameron stays or goes, will there be a general election?  If so, the Fixed Terms Parliament Act will surely have hastily to be scrapped or amended.  But what will the Liberal Democrats say about calls for an election, since the Act was designed to lock their Tory partners into coalition until next May – and prevent them from calling such a snap election?  And will Ed Miliband really want an early election in such circumstances?
  7. If there is a general election, what will be the position of the Scottish constituencies?  After all, they will be set to return MPs to a Parliament which their countrymen have just voted to leave.  Will the SNP stand candidates?  Will UKIP turn itself into an England nationalist party, and demand that the Scottish MPs be barred?  Will Tory MPs, under pressure from UKIP and English nationalist sentiment, take the same line?  Will their leadership (old or new)?
  8. Talking of Miliband, what will Labour do if Scotland votes Yes?  It is wrong to claim that an independent Scotland would end Labour’s prospects of government in what would be left of the United Kingdom.  But it would greatly weaken them.  Will there be a new demand from Labour’s politicians in its heartlands for regional government – so that those areas would have some protection from Conservative domination of England?  Certainly, Miliband will want to go as slowly on Scottish independence as he can.
  9. What will be the date on which Scotland becomes an independent country?  And will Labour collapse there in the 2016 Scottish elections?  Or will there be a Labour revival, as Scottish voters ask themselves what they have done in voting to leave?  If so, will there be Labour Governments in both Westminster and Holyrood, negotiating the terms of an independence neither wanted? Will there be a go slow – or will Labour in Scotland fear having the SNP on their back were this to be attempted?
  10. Will Scotland end up keeping the pound, after all?  But if so, can it really be considered a truly independent country?  What’s the difference between an independent Scotland that keeps the Queen and the pound and “devo max”?
  11. Will Scotland be permitted to keep the pound, though, without voters in the rest of the UK having a say in the matter – through an election or a referendum?
  12. Will Scotland really have to leave the EU?  On the one hand, Spain will push very hard for Scotland to be excluded, fearful of a precedent being set in relation to Catalonia.  On the other, most EU countries will surely not wish to make Scottish accession difficult?  Will there be a fudge, in which Scotland was de jure outside the EU, but de facto inside it – with it effectively remaining in the single market, for example?
  13. Would there have to be a second referendum in Scotland on the actual independence deal?  If so, can the rest of the UK really be denied a vote?
  14. What will the knock-on effects be in Wales?
  15. What will the knock-on effects be in Northern Ireland – where there is less a durable peace than an absence of armed conflict?

Although the headline of this article refers to 15 questions, there are actually rather more of them, since some are grouped together.  But together, they give an indication of the seismic nature of a Yes vote – if it happens.

It’s worth adding that the odds are still heavily in favour of a No vote in Scotland this September.  But it is impossible to be sure – which is why it’s worth starting to think about these questions and others now.

Perhaps a last one is worth posing: if Scotland votes Yes, is it possible that a divorce between it and the rest of the UK will be amicable, and the drama and turmoil suggested by my questions simply won’t happen?  Maybe.  But don’t count on it.

By Paul Goodman

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE WEEK ON CONSERVATIVEHOME

Kevin Toolis: Labour’s election broadcast is a costly turkey  “As a work of film the election broadcast is awesomely bad, a grotesque dog of a film, superlatively and wondrously inept, politically unhinged and I suspect to most members of the general public entirely incomprehensible. A turkey of Oscar-like proportions. “Why is it in black and white?”, asked my uncomprehending teenage son. To make a film this bad is an astounding achievement. And for the film to be approved  through the Labour chain of command, by Miliband himself, reveals a seriously disturbing absence of judgement. Could no-one in Labour’s upper echelons speak out loud that the Un-Credible Shrinking Man is just rubbish?” Read more: http://is.gd/20CqQr

Lord Ashcroft: With only one year to go, here’s what the parties need to do  “How should the parties react to public weariness and cynicism? Like this: show a bit of humility, keep things in proportion, and treat the voters as grown-ups. Don’t overclaim, either about what you have done or what you can do. Don’t tell people you’re going to change their world, or that your opponents would shatter it – still less that they would do it on purpose. Talk to people about the things they care about, rather than repeating what you hope they can be made to care about (and then fretting that the public are “disengaged”). For the voters, it is going to be a long year. The first thing they will need persuading of is that it matters who wins.” Read more: http://is.gd/79qNew

Harry Phibbs: What would be a good result for the Conservatives in the council elections?  “Some Conservative losses are pretty likely. The Rallings and Thrasher projection is net losses of around 200 of the 1,574. That would imply losing Croydon, West Lancashire and Trafford. These are all councils with tiny Conservative majorities. There is also Redbridge, where the Conservatives already rely on Lib Dem councillors to form an administration. Losing these, but nothing else, and not gaining any councils would be a neutral outcome for the Conservatives. Holding any of these – or gaining any councils – would be a good night…A bad night for the Conservatives would involve not only losing Croydon, West Lancashire and Trafford but also Barnet and Peterborough – both Labour targets but rather more ambitious ones. In terms of seats, net losses of under a 150 would be good. Losses between 150 and 250 something to be shrugged off. Losses above 250 would be more disappointing.” Read more: http://is.gd/va7Iqt

Lord Flight: Boom followed by bust – yet again?  “I am inclined to be more optimistic for three particular reasons. First of all, what is happening is in essence a catch up on “six lost years”, and because of this the Bank of England may be correct in taking the view that there is still of the order of 1.5 per cent slack in the economy…Secondly, I observe an explosion of entrepreneurial activity taking place, particularly in the new technology sectors and amongst the young as well as the old….Thirdly, I am hopeful that at last significant catch up increases in investment, in manufacturing and in exports are now in train.  This will take pressure off consumption and the service sectors as the main driver of economic growth.” Read more: http://is.gd/na6r8J

Paul Goodman: Opposition to a Conservative-UKIP pact hits record high among Party members  “Last month, we had: Yes: 30 per cent. No: 62 per cent. Don’t Know: 8 per cent. And the month before: Yes: 33 per cent. No: 58 per cent. Don’t Know: 9 per cent. We’ve now asked about a Tory-UKIP pact five times, and this is the highest percentage opposed to date. As I wrote last month, I expect the percentage wanting a pact to rise after the European elections, and then to fall again as the general election approaches. Almost 800 Party members responded to the survey. The results are tested against a control panel which was supplied by YouGov.” Read more: http://is.gd/gIoIf9

By Paul Goodman

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