On Sept. 18, Scotland turned down a motion for independence from the United Kingdom in a popular referendum. In a 55.3 percent to 44.7 percent contest, the results were not as close as anticipated. Yet the economic implications of such a referendum passing were massive, which explained the highly extensive media coverage the entire process received. Scotland, in my opinion, has dodged a bullet. A really, really big bullet.
Independence would have called for the severing of the 307-year-old political and economic bond between Scotland and the United Kingdom. Since entering the union with the Kingdom of England, mostly out of economic necessity, the United Kingdom of Great Britain (and Ireland from 1801-1922) has endured throughout the centuries as a significant global influence. The risks associated with independence have not changed over 300 years. Economically, Scotland would’ve found itself having to adjust its currency, shift investments, and work to find more sources of income as its energy revenues continue to fall. Despite being considered the oil capital of Europe, it would need similar economic success in other sectors of the economy.
As a primarily services-based economy, one would think that damage to Scotland’s economic performance by declaring independence would be minimal. However, research by an economics professor at the University of Strathclyde found that almost two-thirds (66 percent) of Scottish jobs are linked in some way to the rest of the UK. Independence would surely cut a portion of these jobs from the Scottish economy. Finding replacement jobs in the quickly receding manufacturing sector or other economic sectors would have proven highly difficult.
Through the realization that economic independence is no easy road, Scottish voters ultimately voted “no.” As a reasonable concession to the pro-independence coalition, London has offered Scotland’s Parliament more autonomy in taxation and spending.
The people of Scotland will ultimately come to appreciate the economic benefits they receive from a union that has served their interests for hundreds of years.