Will Mapplebeck looks at a disunited Kingdom.
Thanks to Nicola Sturgeon’s strategic brinkmanship, there could be an independent Scotland in 2019. If it happens, this is the strange state the UK might be in by the mid 2020s.
The SNP is unlikely to change its anti-nuclear stance and that means the current base at Faslane, where the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent sits, will have be moved. I can’t see the SNP negotiating on this; it would be political suicide to allow those weapons to stay. That leaves Westminster with a complex and horribly expensive logistics job to build a base elsewhere in the UK, probably on the south coast of England.
Bear in mind we’re already looking at a £30 billion bill to replace Trident then add another £20 billion – and 20 years – to build another deepwater submarine base. That is a fair chunk of UK Government spend on a weapons system that many see as out of date and of no practical use in modern warfare. Might all that hassle prompt a Westminster government to think again about the weapons? And if not abandon nukes entirely, then at least think about another platform or a strategic alliance? The SNP could not only rid Scotland of nuclear weapons, but prompt the rest of the UK to follow in the same direction.
Checkpoints on the A1? It might seem like something out of an alternative history novel, but there is a real risk of a ‘hard border’ between England and Scotland. In fact if Scotland got its wish and stayed in, or joined, the EU it would likely later adopt the Euro and principles of freedom of movement. That might mean a hard border with a non-EU country like England.
We’d need to have a new flag. There’d be no more blue and white in the Union Jack. There are some attempts at what it might look like. It’s worth remembering that New Zealand recently held a public vote on its flag with some hilarious submissions. If the UK altered the flag, could it still be called the Union Jack? By the way, the current Union Jack doesn’t reflect any of Wales’ national colours. Could we drop the blue and add some green?
Windsor in a knot:
The current monarch has a longstanding relationship with Scotland, but the new breed aren’t quite as attached. While I can’t see SNP activists seizing Balmoral just yet, I can see a gradual perception that the royal family is an Anglo-German institution and having them in Scotland might be seen as a throwback to the days of union. An independent Scotland would in essence look and feel like a republic.
There’s a possibility an independent Scotland could have its own state broadcaster, loosely modelled on the BBC. The SNP’s stance is that it wants the BBC to be federalised, and will continue to push for new services to be set up as part of the Charter Renewal process. Opting out of the BBC entirely might be impractical, so perhaps BBC Scotland might run alongside any national broadcaster. However, would Scots be happy paying towards the costs of both BBC and a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation
Will Mapplebeck is a political columnist based on Tyneside.