Saturday, 8 February 2014

Off-Topic: Scottish Independence

I'm not Scottish. I was born in England, and so were my parents, my grandparents, and probably many generations before them. But if I were Scottish, I would vote to leave the United Kingdom and become an independent nation.

The arguments for independence are plain and simple. Scotland is a small country (about five million people) with enormous natural resources. I'm talking primarily about gas and oil, but there's also fishing. This will make Scotland Europe's richest country, comparable only with Norway.

David Cameron has already stated that if Scotland becomes independent the remaining countries of the UK (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) will inherit 100% of the UK's national debt, currently £1.3 billion. Scotland will be debt free. This will give the Scottish economy an enormous boost.

The first thing that the Scottish will notice after independence is the prices in the shops. Leaving the UK means leaving the European Union, so VAT (Europe's sales tax) will be abolished. The UK's VAT rate is 20%, so prices will drop by 16% overnight, including fuel and alcohol. Some Scottish politicians say that Scotland should apply to join the EU after independence, but when the Scots see that their whisky is £5 a bottle cheaper they'll rebel against EU membership.

Leaving the EU also means that Scotland will be able to deport any unwanted EU nationals by pushing them over the border into England. Scotland currently has higher unemployment than England, so the presence of European workers is resented more strongly than it is in England.

It won't be an overnight process, but Scotland will have to start handing out passports to its residents that it considers to be Scottish. The criteria haven't been fixed yet, but it will probably be something like "To be Scottish you, at least one parent and at least one grandparent have to be born in Scotland". Anyone who is unemployed and British but not Scottish will no longer be entitled to unemployment or sickness benefits. They will be forced to emigrate to England, lessening the burden on the Scottish economy.

Scotland can also look forward to a future as a tax haven. The lack of VAT will lead to companies setting up offices in Scotland. It will be just like the Channel Islands are now, except that it's closer. There will also be a lot of cross-border traffic of people in northern England taking advantage of the cheaper Scottish shop prices. I already mentioned that Scotland has higher unemployment than England. The new liberal taxation will create new jobs at all skill levels.

Those are the advantages of voting Yes in the Scottish independence referendum on September 18th 2014. Are there any disadvantages? Unless England builds a wall to keep the Scots out I can't think of any. Not for Scotland, anyway. Scottish independence will harm the English economy, which is why David Cameron is panicking. Whether the effect will be large or small is something only economics experts can speculate. But Scottish independence will be good for Scotland, and all Scots should vote Yes in the referendum. The only possible reason for voting No is if you live in Scotland but intend to move to England.

I'm not Scottish. I wish I were. The new independent Scotland will be the most exciting country in Europe.


  1. "Unless the English build a wall to keep the Scots out"

    You've just advocated the opposite: that the Scots build a wall to keep EU citizens and citizens of the rump UK out, and deport non-Scottish British citizens who don't have jobs - which would inevitably lead to reprisals against the vast number of Scots in England.

    "Leaving the EU also means that Scotland will be able to deport any unwanted EU nationals by pushing them over the border into England."

    And then they could go straight back again if they wished in the absence of a controlled land border.

    So you advocate border controls between England and Scotland, even though we don't have them (mostly) with the Republic of Ireland? Some Tories also seem to want that due to fears of immigrants getting into England using Scotland as a back door?

    And the serious problems policing that border would create?

    I think it's possible Scotland may cut a deal with the EU or at least the EEA (they could make the two successor states argument, though that would undermine the debt position) - the EU doesn't like countries leaving it after all.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Koenigal86. What I said about England building a wall wasn't advocating anything. All I was saying is that the prospect of a wall is one of the few things that could make independence unattractive to Scotland. It's highly unlikely, of course, in the literal sense. But if Scotland angers England too much a figurative wall might be erected in the form of trade barriers.

    Any EU nationals pushed over the border into England would be unlikely to return if they knew that they wouldn't be allowed to work in Scotland.

    The comparison with Northern Ireland is out of place. Any form of border control between Scotland and England would be of the same type as the border controls with the Channel Islands. There is freedom of travel between England and (for instance) Guernsey, but Guernsey's laws are highly restrictive when it comes to allowing people from England to settle there. Effectively, Guernsey only allows people from England to live in Guernsey if they are very rich. This is the sort of thing I expect from Scotland when the country becomes a tax haven.


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