The usual establishment defeatism about Scotland

On 18th November the Daily Telegraph ran a typical defeatist jeremiad about the prospects of another referendum on Scottish separation from the United Kingdom.

Certainly the Scottish Nationalists will agitate for this, despite the assurance on September 19th from their erstwhile leader, Alex Salmond, that the matter was “decided for a generation”.  But, if there actually is a next time, we in the 92% of the UK which is not in Scotland  must insist on some key changes in the management of any future Scottish separation referendum:

  • It must be made clear that the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarine bases at Faslane and Coalport will be excluded from the scope of the vote, just as the RAF base Akrotiri in Cyprus was excluded from the Cyprus independence settlement in 1960.
  • At least 55% of those voting, and at least 50% of the registered electorate entitled to vote, will be required to approve the opening of negotiations about separation with the UK government as the basis of the Act of the UK Parliament, giving approval to Scottish separation in international law.
  • An Act of the UK Parliament will be required to sanction any referendum and the question which will not be YES or NO – but a choice of two alternatives.
  • Only British citizens with a registered domicile in Scotland of at least five in the previous ten years will be entitled to vote. Voting by those who qualify, but who are living abroad at the time would be provided for at British embassies and consulates.
  • If the result were for separation, any British citizen would nonetheless retain their British passport and citizenship unless they positively surrendered them in favour of a future Scottish passport and citizenship (or other foreign passport). With one exception, dual citizenships will no longer be allowed: people will have to choose[1].

However much Salmond and his successors may huff and puff, constitutional matters are a matter for the United Kingdom Parliament, not a cosy agreement between whoever happens to be Prime Minister and First Minister at the time.  There is no way that the UK Parliament would sanction a referendum which would put at hazard the UK’s nuclear deterrent, which has been paid for by two generations of the whole British people to whom it belongs.

End Note

[1] An exception would be made for a foreign citizen married to a British citizen after a period of 5 years’ married residence in the United Kingdom.  Any children would be allowed to choose at 18.

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