By Sergei Sayenko
The leaders of the UK and Scotland, David Cameron and Alex Salmond, had their first meeting in Edinburgh on the Scottish independence referendum but failed to overcome major obstacles on the way to a compromise.
After the talks both leaders did not change their minds. Mr. Salmond confirmed that neither he nor Cameron reached an agreement on the question for the referendum and the date when to hold it. Mr. Cameron said that although the talks were overall productive, no breakthrough was made on the Scottish independence referendum.
“I’m not saying that Scotland couldn’t make it on her own, of course Scotland could, just as England could – but ideally hope that this doesn’t happen. I believe in the United Kingdom, head, heart and soul. We’ve achieved so much together, we can go on achieving great things together, so I hope that, when the time comes, Scots will vote to stay in our shared home.”
The relations between London and Edinburgh became a bit strained after Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond pledged a referendum on independence in autumn of 2014. After the Act of Union brought Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707, the two countries have been going neck to neck in their development.
Meanwhile, independence from London has long remained a painful issue for Scotland. And God forbid you call a Scott an Englishman! At the same time, Scotland has hardly made any step to separate. In 1997 Scotland gained the restricted autonomy of devolution to set up its semi-autonomous parliament, Stormont. Nevertheless, all major decisions for the Scottish policies are still made in London.
Now that Edinburgh speaks up for independence, London is facing a serious challenge: if Scotland quits the UK, this will bring too much trouble to central government. Britain’s role in the UNSC, as well membership in the EU and NATO will be put under threat since the country`s army will have to be reorganized, not to mention the fact that Scotland is the UK`s nuclear shield.
Evidently, London and Edinburgh are yet very far from achieving a compromise on the issue. An anonymous source in the British parliament told the media that David Cameron described the results of the talks with Salmond as ‘disappointing’. Perhaps, the Scottish leader believes that all trump cards are his, and did not give in.
In case Scotland quits the UK, it will start making independent decisions on corporate tax rates and alcohol duties, which Edinburgh believes could help boost up Scotland`s economy. Besides, Alex Salmond claims that an independent Scotland could raise £30bn in the next 20 years or so from North Sea oil. The Scottish government also plans to further adhere to its policy of free higher education and free care for elderly.
If separated from the UK, Scotland will clearly have something to lose and something to gain. Meanwhile, polls show that Scots divide 50/50 on the question of independence.