STAY – It’s still the United Kingdom
David Cameron has led the charge, saying he will fight to keep the nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland united. This ‘safety in numbers’ approach put forward by the Prime Minister promises to maintain the strength of the UK, whilst continuing Scotland’s position as part of a global authority. Indeed, the matter is a case of basic maths: more countries equals more power; the break-up of the UK after over 300 years will only serve to leave Scotland as a weak and isolated country with a limited lifespan.
Scottish independence threatens to challenge our position in the UN, NATO and Europe, as well as important global alliances. The running of the UK is set up around it being a united nation, with defence mechanisms and the armed forces representing all contributing states. The UK’s entire nuclear arsenal is to be found at two locations in Scotland: Coulport and Faslane. Going it alone could prove risky for the Scots as their armed forces will be almost wiped out overnight, leading to the question of whether they will even be able to defend themselves. More worryingly for Britain, will we be expected to continue to defend the Scots despite their decision to part from a stable alliance?
The UK is one of the world’s economic powerhouses, a position which would be jeopardized by a break-up; seriously for Britain and fatally for Scotland. In 2010 the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was ranked 3rd out of all European countries, closely following France and Germany. GDP recognises the market value of all goods and services produced by a country in a given period of time, and so this reflects the success of our combined economies.
If the Scots were to go their own way, not only would the remainder of the UK suffer from a severely weakened economy, but the new Scottish country would find itself in a dramatically different economic state. Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, claims that over the next 20 years an independent country could raise £30bn from North Sea oil reserves, but this figure has been ridiculed by geologists who say the reserves have already reached their peak of production – suggesting that oil offers a short term solution to the long term problem of Scotland supporting its own economy. Salmond’s calculation error exposes the independence question for what it truely is – a rushed and ridiculous scheme.
The questioning of Scotland’s commitment to union comes at a time of widespread financial turmoil, and with the eurozone crisis worsening daily there appears to be no logical reason why Scotland should become independent and risk the pound following the doomed trajectory of the euro. Here perhaps Scotland should look to its neighbour, Ireland, and take a lesson from the daily worsening of their European-funded economy. During the present period of instability, the union must be seen both for its past success and future potential; we don’t want the troubles of a divided UK becoming another factor on the growing list of worldwide problems.
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