A Scottish exit from UK would have huge implications for NI

Morning View
Morning View

When the referendum on Scottish independence was announced, it seemed as if there was little prospect of Scotland choosing to exit the United Kingdom.

Earlier this year the polls began to narrow, and it began to look conceivable that the Scots might in fact vote for independence.

Then the Yes camp began to pull far ahead. Now the polls seem again to be narrowing, although support for the Union still seems to be clearly in front.

It seems hard to believe that Scotland could within a small number of weeks be a standalone country.

There is debate as to exactly what would happen in the immediate aftermath of a Yes vote, but constitutional experts appear to be agreed that there would be no going back from such a decision, however narrow. There would be no scope to look into the detail, and say: “Actually, we’re not sure about this.”

The big imponderable is the undecideds. They make up more than a quarter of those polled in the most recent survey.

If they break two-to-one in favour of independence, the UK as we know it is history.

It is an unlikely scenario, but one that would have immense implications for Northern Ireland.

Scottish independence would greatly embolden nationalists in the Province.

There is, simultaneously, an even greater likelihood that the UK will indeed get an in-out referendum on EU membership and that the English (who will decide such a poll) will vote to quit (particularly now that Jean-Claude Juncker is EC president).

That would mean a shrunken UK outside of the EU.

The prospects of both Scotland quitting the UK and the remaining UK quitting Europe are slim, but the place that would be most affected by such an outcome would be Northern Ireland.

It is a nerve-wracking time for unionists in the Province.