Updated September 19, 2014 — The votes are in. Scotland is staying! The vote was 55% to 45% for Scotland to stay with the United Kingdom. “Reform” over “revolution” is how some newspapers characterized it. The U.K.’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, said, “They have kept our country of four nations together. Like millions of other people, I am delighted.” A pretty close call nonetheless.
Scotland is voting on Thursday, September 18th, whether to stay part of the United Kingdom … or become its own independent country.
The whole world is watching. And it looks like it’s going to be a real nail biter!
Wait, isn’t Scotland already its own country? Not exactly. Scotland is part of the United Kingdom which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Great Britain, which you’ve also probably heard of, is made up of England, Wales, and Scotland.
Moving toward a vote for independence started a few years ago and initially didn’t have much support but it’s gained A LOT of momentum recently.
When Scottish voters vote Thursday, the question they will be asked is simply, “ Should Scotland be an independent country? ”
At its most basic, the decision is whether Scotland should separate so it can have its own identity and freedoms? Or should it continue to have the security that being part of the United Kingdom provides?
Polls (informal votes) are showing that it’s 50.6% for the “we’ll stay with the U.K. side”… and 49.4% for the “yes, we want our own country” side. That’s as close as it gets!
If the Yes vote wins, it will take until May of 2016 to do what needs to be done to make it totally official.
If the No vote wins, Scotland has been promised even more freedoms. The no side, officially known as Better Together , is saying this is a win/win. No split and more freedom. About as good as it gets.
The U.K.’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, made a speech last night urging Scotland to stay part of the U.K. “We want you to stay. Head, heart, and soul, we want you to stay,” he said.
Prime Minister Cameron also added, in a little more forceful tone, that if Scotland splits … it’s forever. That would be a pretty big breakup after 300 years and a lot of history made together.
Even the Queen of England, who normally doesn’t get involved in politics, weighed in saying she hopes that Scotland will consider their decision very carefully.
Why? (besides the fact that the queen has a castle in Scotland?)
Because Scotland, England, and the U.K. are super intertwined. Becoming independent is much more complicated that just declaring yourself a new country. Ta da!
Scotland uses the British pound as its currency (money). If Scotland becomes independent, they’ve been told they won’t get to use the pound anymore. They could make up their own currency or they could try to use the Euro that much of the rest of Europe uses, but that’s not easy to do, and takes a long time.
An extension of that is the economy and the debt. The U.K., as most other countries do, owes money that needs to be paid back. If Scotland splits, it will probably have to take its share of the debt. That’s not the easiest way to start a country. But, the Yes for independence side says they have lots of resources between oil reserves and tourism and other industries that would make Scotland even richer than if it stayed.
Another consideration? Scotland is part of the European Union (EU) because it’s part of the United Kingdom. It Scotland separates, it likely won’t be part of the EU automatically, at least not right away. They might have to go to the back of the line since there are seven other countries, like Iceland and Turkey, that have already been waiting a while to join.
Scotland separating would also have to split up the U.K.’s powerful military and would then have to form its own.
And then there’s how Scottish people identify themselves. Younger Scots reportedly don’t feel as loyal to old ways, a Queen, history, and a government that rules from another land (England). You only have to be 16 years old to vote in this referendum, so that will be a factor. Older Scots are reported to feel better about their longstanding partnership.
These are just a few small examples of what’s at stake. Splitting off is being likened to a messy divorce by some, and a bright and sunny future by others.
And this isn’t just about Scotland. Other places that have been wanting independence will be looking to Scotland to see what happens.
Despite the complications, the desire to be in charge of your own country seems to be worth something. We’ll find out Thursday just how much.
How do you think the vote will go?