The people of Scotland stepped back from the brink of breaking up the United Kingdom. Were they scared into rejecting independence? Or did they finally realise that the country could be better off staying in a union with the UK? Whatever the reason, the relationship between England and Scotland will never be the same again. Nor will it be with other countries and principalities ruled by London, like Wales and Northern Ireland. 55% of the Scottish electorate voted to stay in the Union while 44% voted in favour of independence, with an 86% turnout.
Prime Minster, David Cameron, was relieved that Scottish people voted to stay in the UK. “Scotland voted for a stronger Scottish Parliament backed by the strength and security of the United Kingdom and I want to congratulate the No campaign for that – for showing people that our nations really are better together. I also want to pay tribute to Yes Scotland for a well-fought campaign and to say to all those who did vote for independence: ‘We hear you’”, he said last Friday.
First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, conceding defeat, said, “Scotland has decided at this stage not to become independence.” He added that the referendum process was a “triumph for democratic process and political process.” Salmond said he is expecting “vows by Unionists to devolve more powers to Scotland will be honoured in rapid course.”
The significance of this once-in-a-lifetime referendum is not marred by a disappointing loss of 10% of the votes for ‘Yes’ campaign. People not normally interested in politics became involved. The most important implication is that the referendum has acted as a catalyst for constitutional change, without resorting to cutting all links with the British Government. The referendum was decided under former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who agreed to devolution despite warnings it would lead to the breakup of the UK.
Politicians in England were criticised for being lethargic and waking up late to the distinct possibility that the independence campaign which started more than two years ago in Scotland, could succeed. Alarmed that the referendum could be really meaningful, unique cooperation was formed between Britain’s three main political parties to prevent a ‘Yes’ vote. The ‘No’ campaign saw David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband join forces to make a series of incursions, resulting in a series of pledges to allow more devolved power in Edinburgh.