Scottish Separation and the Union Jack

Charles Moore, former editor of the Daily Telegraph and perceptive commentator wrote tellingly (Daily Telegraph 4th January) about the need for British politicians to cast caution aside in advocating continuation of the union of Scotland with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

There would be many grievous consequences of Scottish separation, but dismemberment of the Union Jack would not be one of them.  This flag of freedom belongs to all British citizens including the 3 or 4 million Scots and many Anglo-Scots families living in England, none of whom, in a travesty of democracy is being allowed to vote, on their future citizenship.  The flags of all nations and groups of nations are historical to a greater or lesser extent.  The 12 stars of the European Union are essentially drawn from the Council of Europe flag, itself based on a Catholic tradition, though many of the 28 member states of the EU are Protestant or Orthodox, or avowedly secular.

Besides its world-wide recognition as the flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack is part of the flags of three Canadian provinces, including the largest – Ontario, the flags of Australia and its six states, New Zealand, Fiji, Gibraltar, the Falklands, and other dependent territories.  To that extent it belongs to well over 60 million of other people besides British citizens.  It is also an integral part of the Military Colours of all the Queen’s realms, of the White Ensign of the Royal Navy and the flags of the RAF, RAAF, and RCAF.  There is no way that 120 million people would allow these historic and revered designs to be broken up by the vote of fewer than two million people in Scotland.  Hopefully the vote will be resoundingly in favour of continuing the Union.

Moore also mentioned the position of the Queen in a separated Scotland.  This needs spelling out again (see Stephen Bush post of 29th November 2013).  Whatever Alex Salmond may wish, this will be a matter for all 16 prime ministers in the Queen’s realms (in Canada in all 10 provinces and in Australia all 6 states separately as well) who will have formally to legislate for any change in the Queen’s status which being Head of State of a 17th country would mean.  Likewise a separated Scotland’s use of the pound sterling as its national currency is entirely problematic as is its entry into the European Union.  The Scots people need to be told this lest they find themselves without a currency or Head of State by accident.

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