Today, 18th September 2014, people in Scotland will vote on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent nation. Voters will answer “Yes” or “No” to the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” Nearly 4.3 million voters are expected to turn up for the vote, which could effectively put an end to 307 years of Scotland being part of the United Kingdom. Once the results from all 32 local authority areas are known, the results of the referendum will be declared at the Royal Highland Centre outside Edinburgh by “breakfast time” on Friday.
This is huge! A simple majority will be enough to pass the referendum and Scotland could be an independent nation. Scotland and England united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. Great Britain in turn united with the Kingdom of Ireland in 1801, which formed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Most of Ireland left the Union in 1922 as the Irish Free State; thus the full name of the sovereign state today is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Is it likely that Scotland will become independent? Within two generations, Scottish independence has gone from an eccentric fringe movement to a dominant political force that is on the cusp of victory. Leading up to the actual vote, the ‘Better Together’ campaign was leading by far but in recent weeks the sudden surge in support for the pro-independence ‘Yes’ side has all but eliminated the gap. The recent polls showed a 51% win for the NO and 49%, without counting the “undecided” votes. That is not a very confident look for the union.
Scotland’s 5.3 million citizens represent about eight percent of the total U.K. population and would create a new country bigger than Ireland (4.5 million) but smaller than Denmark (5.5 million). The referendum has no direct legal power, but the British government has promised to negotiate Scotland’s split from the United Kingdom in the event of a ‘Yes’ victory, with an official split slated for March 2016. I have Scottish relatives – my mom’s sister, her husband who are now British citizens and my 7 cousins who were born & raised mostly in the Glasgow area. However with the exception of 1 the cousins (and their respective spouses for 5 of them) don’t live in Scotland anymore, having moved for jobs. I only have a couple of Scottish friends and they seem to be for the Union. I personally don’t want them to split up as I think it will be a shame. We shall know by tomorrow.