What will happen in the event of the Scots voting in favour of independence on 18th September?
Scottish historian Allan Massie imagines David Cameron quitting, the Queen being furious, Scotland's economy going belly up and the Nordic inhabitants of oil-rich Shetland and Orkney who, despite being part of Scotland don't really consider themselves to be Scottish in many ways, wanting to break away from an independent Scotland and negotiate UK Crown Dependency status similar to that of the Isle of Man, taking all that oil away from Scotland in the process. Eventually, the people of both Scotland and England will hope for a new Treaty of Union...
So what happens when Scotland votes yes? Cameron's quit, the Queen is furious, the Shetlands have taken all the oil - and the Scottish economy is tanking: A brilliant 'imagining' of life after the Union
Scottish historian Allan Massie analysis a potential yes to independence
Mr Massie paints a compelling scenario of a Britain no longer unified
As polls still remain on a knife edge, he imagines the immediate effects
Mr Massie also looks at who would rule England, Wales and Northern Ireland
By Allan Massie
4 May 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014. 4.30am. Edinburgh.
In the steely grey of dawn, a bitter wind clatters empty beer cans through Edinburgh’s New Town, where a few brave souls remain outside Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence in Charlotte Square.
They have come to see history made. The first results, seeming to show the Scottish nationalists sweeping all before them, had prompted wild street celebrations. But, agonisingly, Scotland, England and this clutch of Tartan diehards are forced to wait. Results from Orkney and Shetland and other outlying constituencies won’t be in until the afternoon. Exit polls say the result is on a knife edge.
‘Typical of those bastards to take it to extra time,’ comes a voice from the shivering throng. A man with a smudged Saltire on his face replies: ‘Aye, but you can rely on the English to lose the penalty shoot-out.’
What could be: If the Scottish vote yes in the September referendum, it spells the end of the United Kingdom as it is now and Great Britain will be no more
5.30am. The kitchen, 10 Downing Street.
‘Too close to call,’ was the last phrase David Cameron heard before snatching a few hours sleep. Nothing has changed. The shirtsleeved Prime Minister leans, head in hands, on the kitchen table. His Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, and two special advisers take urgent calls: the counts continue, but the nationalists’ celebrations are under way. The piles of ‘yes’ papers don’t lie. Scotland is going to go it alone.
There’s an awkward silence. Everyone knows the PM has made mistakes. He’d never wanted a TV debate with Alex Salmond.
If only he hadn’t allowed himself to be persuaded by Michael Gove who, as a Scot himself, assured him that tackling Salmond head-on would play well north of Hadrian’s Wall. In fact, Salmond was smoothly impressive and an anxious Cameron made a fateful blunder – threatening to resign if Scotland voted for independence. The Scots smelt blood. Opinion polls showed thousands of ‘don’t knows’ shifted their allegiance to the ‘yes’ camp.
Even worse was the ‘Braveheart Ailsa Cameron’ moment, when the feisty passion of his 17-year-old namesake from Fife made the Prime Minister look a blustering fool on a radio phone-in and started an #AilsaYes bandwagon on social media. Sir Sean Connery phoned to congratulate her from California. He doesn’t do Twitter.
On to a winner: First minister Alex Salmond
And had Cameron really been right to advise the Queen not to break off her holiday at Balmoral? He had intended to be reassuring, but was accused of complacency. All the same, he consoles himself, this mess was not his fault. Labour had botched the ‘Better Together’ campaign.
He lights a cigarette, and stubs it out with the nauseous thought that Salmond will be drinking champagne. Sir Jeremy suavely states the obvious: ‘I’m afraid we’re in uncharted territory, Prime Minister.’
Craig Oliver, Cameron’s Director of Communications, slips silently in, his mind focused on John Humphrys and 8.10am. ‘You’ve got to appear statesmanlike and magnanimous,’ he offers.
‘Reassure the nation on the pound and the Armed Forces, regretfully congratulate Scotland on its decision and, above all, say there won’t be a General Election until this Parliament has run its full term. The Scottish MPs will continue to sit in Westminster until then, but won’t be permitted to vote on matters affecting England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the West Lothian question and all that. Business as usual for the United Kingdom…’
An aide interrupts with news that rioting has broken out in Belfast – the Republicans wanting a united Ireland. ‘Speak to the Northern Ireland Secretary,’ the PM says wearily, for a moment forgetting her name.
Samantha, still in the fetching tartan wrap she wore for the cameras yesterday, gives her husband a hug of consolation and a bacon sandwich. ‘Eat something,’ she says, softly. ‘Look on the bright side, at least you’ll get to see more of the children.’
Noon. 10 Downing Street.
Salmond is on TV, a Cheshire cat grin splitting his face. ‘Our friends in England will find we are good neighbours,’ he says.
‘Smuggo Salmond’s got a surprise coming,’ chips in Chancellor George Osborne. ‘We own his Royal Bank. And the markets are soaring. The City thinks Scotland has been holding the recovery back. Let him pay for his own precious free education and health care.’
Cameron brightens. He hasn’t yet arranged to see the Queen.
‘Maybe I can hang on,’ he thinks. The reporters are like starving locusts outside. Cameron puts his jacket on and steps lightly downstairs, past the disapproving portraits of dead Prime Ministers. He takes a deep breath. ‘Certainly not,’ he says. ‘I have no intention of resigning. There’s work to be done.’
Back in the Cabinet Room, the Prime Minister takes a call from Carwyn Jones, the Welsh First Minister, who wants to know where this leaves Wales. ‘Just where you were,’ he is told. Nobody has given Wales a thought. He grits his teeth and telephones Salmond to congratulate him.
‘Obama got in before you,’ Salmond replies unctuously.
Scotland, meanwhile, is curiously sober – the BBC reports most people have gone to work as usual.
The PM’s heart sinks. Boris is on. ‘London can take it,’ blusters the man known as ‘two-jobs Johnson’ since remaining as Mayor of London while winning a summer by-election engineered by the resignation of a backbencher with an eye on the Lords.
‘There’s a flood of money coming South and the planes from Scotland to London are booked solid. The Prime Minister? Resigning? Think Francis Urquhart, old boy, “You may say that, but I couldn‘t possibly comment.” ’
9am. Malibu, California.
Sir Sean Connery instructs his London broker to withdraw the last of his money from RBS, only to be told that it’s now 5pm in London and the banks are shut.
Saturday, September 20.
Showing where their allegiance lies: Glasgow Rangers fans
In Glasgow, Rangers fans bedecked in the Union Flag sing an offensive song about Alex Salmond and are arrested. In George Square, a drunk man argues that if England hadn’t won the World Cup in Brazil, Scotland would have voted to stay in the Union. ‘It’ll be 1966 and all that all over again,’ he says. ‘I was a Unionist myself, but I couldna stand the thought o’ that, and voted yes. Whit’s mair, the winning goal was offside.’
Royal bank of ??? : The RBS would remain in the hands of the government that helped bail it out - the one in Westminster
Sunday, September 21. Chequers.
Nobody mentions the papers strewn over the dining table. The bastards have done their worst. ‘Cam Oot’ screams one of the red tops.
The broadsheets are worse.
Spin doctor Craig Oliver advises the PM to show who’s in charge.
‘I’ve arranged a series of photo-ops with all the key players,’ he says.
‘Mark Carney will say the Bank of England is well-prepared, the Scottish pound will be pegged to Sterling and both currencies will remain legal tender on both sides of the border until further notice. Chief of the General Staff Sir Peter Wall will say that arrangements are under way for a transfer of command for the Scottish regiments to Edinburgh, but that the situation of Scottish soldiers in UK units will remain unchanged. Tony Hall will say BBC Scotland will become the SBC, funded by the Scottish licence fee.’
There’s the crunch of gravel on the drive and a knock on the door. It’s the chief whip, Sir George Young. He looks nervous.
‘Morning Prime Minister,’ he says. ‘Look, I won’t beat about the bush. I’m sorry to have to tell you that you no longer have the support of the parliamentary party.’
Cameron stares out over the famous Chequers croquet lawn.
‘So it’s over,’ he says, simply.
Monday, September 22. Balmoral.
Her Majesty, her face like thunder, tells a courtier that Mr Cameron will have to wait. Their exact words remain secret, but the official line is that the Queen was happy to be assured that Scotland would remain a member of the Commonwealth. In Scotland she would now be known as Elizabeth I, Queen of Scots.
An ashen David Cameron is swept away for his last journey in the Prime Ministerial car. He joins Samantha and the children at her stepfather Lord Astor’s 20,000-acre estate on the Hebridean island of Jura.
‘Clegg’s in charge,’ he tells her, wryly. ‘Let’s see who agrees with Nick now.’
Tuesday, September 23, 10am. 10 Downing Street.
Miriam Clegg enters No 10 in triumph, looking like a modern, designer version of the Infanta of Castile. Her husband, temporarily in charge, raises his arm to hush the cheering Lib Dem faithful.
‘There is much to do,’ he says. ‘Two great nations face a great future together. Side-by-side, but separate. It is my job, and Alex Salmond’s job, to build a bridge over troubled waters.’
It is not a promising start: a pre-prepared transcript reveals he never intended to invoke Simon and Garfunkel, but to mouth a platitude about spreading oil on troubled waters. The papers have a field day, pointing out that the missing oil is now Scotland’s.
Friends for-never: A Scottish yes to independence and Alex Salmond could spell the end of David Cameron's time as Britain's Prime Minister
11am, 11 Downing Street.
Osborne takes a call from Salmond.
‘I told you currency union is not on,’ says a smiling Chancellor. ‘Ed Balls agrees. You’re on your own now, sink or swim.’
‘They’ll sink,’ he smirks, ending the call. The news alarms the markets. Money flees from Scotland and three large insurance companies relocate to England. Osborne, representing the UK taxpayer, commands the Royal Bank of Scotland to transfer its headquarters to London.
‘We must ensure it behaves responsibly,’ he says.
Tuesday, September 30. Westminster.
The five names for the first ballot of the Conservative leadership contest are revealed: George Osborne, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Teresa May and Eric Pickles.
Parliament is in chaos. What will MPs from Scottish constituencies do? And what about Scottish MPs in English constituencies? The Fixed-Term Parliament Act makes it impossible to call an immediate General Election unless two-thirds of the House vote for dissolution – which would be like turkeys voting for Christmas.
Many MPs are surprised to discover that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom until the fine detail has been agreed. Salmond has fixed the date of Independence at 18 months after the referendum. Too soon, say the Conservatives.
Friday, October 3.
After a resounding victory in the second leadership ballot, Boris Johnson’s first day as Prime Minister is marred by an unseemly spat with Alex Salmond after the PM tells Newsnight interviewer Phillip Schofield that the Scots are behaving like unruly children.
‘Boris Johnson is the last person who should be lecturing Scotland on children,’ says Salmond.
His day gets worse as Nadine Dorries defects to become UKIP’s first MP.
‘We must put the United Kingdom first,’ she says. ‘I demand the introduction of border controls to stop Scottish workers stealing our jobs.’ At the EU Council of Ministers, Johnson endures French President Francois Hollande’s jibes about the Auld Alliance and the Spanish Prime Minister assures him he will veto Scotland’s bid to join the EU.
‘Catalonia is still part of Spain and the United Kingdom is broken. I had the “cojones” and Cameron didn’t. Who’s laughing now?,’ he says. Not many in Scotland.
Enthusiastic: Pro-independence campaigners march through Edinburgh in September last year, 12 months ahead of the referendum
Monday, October 6. Lerwick.
Viking torches flame as islanders from Orkney and Shetland gather to demand a referendum of their own after both voted ‘no’ to independence by a substantial majority. Salmond refuses, declaring that Orkney and Shetland are part of Scotland.
‘You’re not independent yet, Jock,’ Boris Johnson tells him by phone. ‘Orkney and Shetland are part of the UK and I’d be neglecting my duty if I didn’t offer them the opportunity to stay. I’m fixing the vote for May to coincide with the General Election.’
Faced with the prospect of losing Shetland – and the substantial oil revenues from its territorial waters – Scottish Finance Minister, John Swinney, is compelled to bring in an emergency budget, imposing prescription charges, student fees (both of which did not exist in Scotland, unlike in England, until now) and welfare cuts.
The markets panic when SNP extremists call on Salmond to reject Scotland’s share of the UK national debt. A flight of capital begins amid rumours that Scotland plans exchange controls.
January 5, 2015. Glasgow.
Rising unemployment sees anti-Salmond demonstrations and an exodus from Scotland to England.
Farage again demands border controls to protect British jobs. Boris reminds him the Scots, as British and EU citizens, are entitled to benefit from the free movement of labour, but support for UKIP rises sharply.
As Scotland’s economy withers, England booms. Salmond is forced to accept that Trident submarines will continue to be based in the Clyde in exchange for an annual rent from London.
April 13, 2015. Westminster.
UKIP's Nadine Dorries seeks to introduce a bill to prevent Scotland from voting in May’s General Election. Nobody else in Westminster has noticed that Scottish votes could make Ed Miliband Prime Minister – only for him to lose his majority when the Act of Union is repealed and Scottish MPs are sent home.
Few people, south or north of the border, can bring themselves to vote for Miliband, especially after his ill-judged election pledge to cap house prices and tax house profits at 40 per cent. Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats collapse and Boris is elected PM.
British Vikings: The pro-UK Orkney and Shetland break away from Scotland and negotiate a UK status similar to the Isle of Man, booming on oil and the new offshore financial services.
NOT many bells are rung in Scotland when the Day of Independence finally arrives. Orkney and Shetland negotiate a UK status similar to the Isle of Man, booming on oil and the new offshore financial services.
The Ulster Troubles rumble on and nobody thinks about Wales. In Scotland, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart cry of ‘Freedom’ sounds painfully ironic as cuts that would make Lady Thatcher wince begin to bite.
Both countries appear sadly diminished. Even the natural ebullience of Prime Minister Johnson cannot prevent him from privately acknowledging that a state that had been unable to hold together had become Little Britain in the eyes of the world.
A view gathers strength on both sides of the border that those who had argued that England and Scotland were ‘better together’ had been right all along.
In both countries many hope for a generation of politicians with the vision to make the case for a new Treaty of Union. How long both nations will have to wait is, sadly, anyone’s guess.
Last edited by Blackleaf; May 4th, 2014 at 02:35 PM..