It seems the most talked about ‘thing’ on the UK news recently is the debate on whether or not Scotland should gain independence from the United Kingdom, and become an independent country in its own right. The official vote will be held on Thursday 18th September.
We’ve heard a lot about the major changes that are likely to occur in the event of a “Yes” vote (the new currency of Scotland, their place in the EU etc), but has anyone stopped to consider the little practical changes if Scotland were to actually gain independence? After all, it is often the simple things in life that mean the most to us on a day-to-day basis. Here is our starter for ten:
Travelling to Scotland by train will no longer be as easy as ‘123’. One of the perks of Scotland being part of the United Kingdom is the convenience of easy travel into the country. The common train route from London Euston to Glasgow is one taken by many of us without even a second thought. However, if Scotland were to become an independent nation, separate from the UK, then what would it mean for this popular journey? Supposedly they would have to put border controls in place – at Euston station and at all the stations en-route lest people illegally enter Scotland and England? And supposedly there will be the queues and the inconvenience that normally accompanies border controls not to mention the anxiety that you might have forgotten your passport behind!
The design of the Union Flag dates from a Royal Proclamation following the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. The flag incorporates the red cross of St George of England, the white saltire of St Andrew for Scotland and the red saltire of St Patrick to represent Ireland. If Scotland was to become independent, there is no doubt the flag of the Union Jack would have to change. Symbolically this would signify the dissolution of such a great partnership that all 3 nations have had for over 200 years. More practically, what would this change mean for the countless other British colonies and former British colonies that embody the current Union Jack in their flags to this day? Would countries like Australia, New Zealand, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands have to alter their flags? The logistics, and expense, of such an operation seem quite daunting.
The National University boundary – redefined?
When it comes to choosing their most desirable university to study at nationally, prospective students through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), have the choice of English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish universities. Because these countries are part of the UK, students who study there are regarded as national rather than international students, regardless of where they reside in the UK. This means they only have to pay national tuition fees – currently £9,000 per year – for an average of three years. If Scotland declares independence however, English, Welsh and Northern Irish students would likely now be classed as international students, and would therefore be subjected to exorbitant international tuition fees. For example, prospective students starting at the University of St Andrews (everyone’s favourite Scottish University) in September 2014 would have to pay £9,000 tuition fees. By contrast, if they were classified as international students following independence, they may be forced to pay £24,500 (medical students) or £16,230 (non-medical students)!
Consistency in International Sports Competitions
For as long as most people can remember, when it came to Athletics tournaments, Great Britain always played as one team consisting of athletes from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This is the case for the Olympics and the International Championships. However confusingly, it is not the case in the Commonwealth Games, in international football competitions or in international rugby competitions. With Scottish independence, Scotland will seek to represent as a country in all games. Theoretically, this could result in greater opportunities for more Scottish athletes to break into the national team with less competition for places from the other former home nations…but it also means less medals as a collective force of GB. A definite plus though is the introduction of some consistency.
The Great Banking Exodus?
The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), has apparently declared that it may have to leave Scotland in the event of a “Yes” vote. Based in Scotland since 1727, RBS revealed that it has considered plans to shift its head office from Scotland to England. This follows the announcement by Lloyds Bank that it would also move its head office to England, stating that they currently have “contingency plans in place which include the establishment of new legal entities in England”.
The reasons for possible emigration is clear. There has been increasing expectations that banks would shift their registered offices to seek the protection of the Bank of England, and to protect customers and the bank’s all-important credit ratings. Another Scottish financial company Standard Life, have also warned that it would shift business to England following possible independence. The ambiguity regarding what currency Scotland will use post-independence hasn’t done much to stem their fears of economic instability, and there is no doubt that the move to England from these big Scottish businesses will be a big blow to the Scottish economy.
Currently, it is the banks and financial institutions who are making their intentions known. One can only wonder what other organisations, at either side of the fence, will follow suit …and what these changes will mean for their employees and their livelihoods.
Written by Ebony Ezekwesili and Isabelle Ezekwesili.
Ebony is a recent 2:1 law graduate from the University of East Anglia. Passionate about marketing and sports, she is currently writing a book on business transformation change lessons from the World Cup 2014. She is also a sports writer at ebonylovessports.blogspot.co.uk.
Isabelle is a final year law student at the University of Kent.