Scottish vote will affect us all – whatever the decision

Labour leader Ed Miliband raising a Saltire on Liverpool waterfront as he urges cities and towns acr

Labour leader Ed Miliband raising a Saltire on Liverpool waterfront as he urges cities and towns across the United Kingdom to fly the flag in an effort to persuade voters in Scotland to "stay with us". - Credit: PA

On Thursday it will only be those living in Scotland who will have a chance to answer the simple question – should Scotland be an independent country?

Yet the implications of the vote will have consequences for the rest of the United Kingdom.

If the Scots vote yes, the arduous task of hammering out the terms of the 'divorce' will start.

But with promises of new powers for Scotland if the Scots vote to stay in the UK, there will also be consequences.

English MPs have already called for other UK cities and regions to have more control over their affairs if the Scots are rewarded for voting against independence.

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And former East Anglian MP and cabinet minister Lord MacGregor, who was born and brought up in Scotland, has warned the government must not to give too much away in negotiations, warning of a backlash.

Lord MacGregor, who was South Norfolk MP until 2001 and a former chief secretary to the Treasury, has warned that if there is a yes vote it is going to be a very 'tough period' for the rest of the United Kingdom.

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He chaired a committee in the House of Lords which looked into the implications of Scottish independence, amid fears that the impact on the whole of the UK was not being spelt out.

He warned: 'In the period of uncertainty sterling will be weakened and there will be a lot of very cautious international investors. The risk is that borrowing costs could become higher during that period of uncertainty, the rating agencies would rate the UK down because of the uncertainty,'

The peer, who was born and brought up in the former coal mining community Shotts, said: 'I desperately hope it is a no vote. If it is a yes vote we are going to go through a very tough period in the rest of the UK as well. It is going to be a very anxious period until we complete negotiations.'

But he said that the so-called 'Devo Max' option in the event of a no vote, where more powers would be given to Scotland, would also raise issues.

'What is going to be terribly important is that UK government really doesn't give too much away. Scotland already gets per capita a higher proportion of public expenditure than the rest of the UK, so they can do free tuition fees and all the rest of it, so we mustn't go further down that route.

'I think there will be an English backlash in parliament,' he said.

'I do get a lot of people saying to me 'why should Scottish MPs get a vote over matters affecting England? That feeling is growing. There will be a bit of an English backlash if there is a yes vote and if the government is not seen to stick up for a fair deal in Devo Max negotiations.'

Victor Morgan, a University of East Anglia expert on the English regions and regionalistaion, agreed either outcome would have consequences.

He said the Scottish referendum would start a debate about more devolution of powers.

'I think having seen the Scots do it, even if the Scots don't vote for independence, but end up with Devo Max, I think will start a debate in the UK and within England about the extent to which parts should have more devolved powers,' he said. But he questions what form it would take.

'Rather than talking about city regions, are you talking about wider regions which may well come to fore again? We have got a notional identity and people feel that strongly,' he said.

What is clear is that regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday, there will be implications for us all and much negotiation to come.

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