The implications of Scottish independence
A Scottish National Party member holds a mini Scottish flag. (David Cheskin/PA Wire)
It’s hard to tell just how many Scottish voters want independence from the United Kingdom.
A Sunday Times poll conducted between 27 January and 1 February said 47% of Scots were for and 53% were against Scottish independence, while a poll conducted the very same week by its sister newspaper, The Times, arrived at 37% for and 50% against. Both polls tested the same question: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” It’s the question that First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond wants for the referendum on independence, slated for 2014. The referendum itself, and whether it may include an option for something between total independence and total control by the UK, is still being debated by Salmond and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The SNP argues that independence will boost tourism by decreasing corporation tax, which could increase business investment. But according to the hospitality trade publication Caterer and Hotelkeeper Magazine, the Apex Hotels chain counters that there will be no guarantee of lower taxes. The Herald, a Scottish newspaper reports that a move to slash corporation tax could be blocked by the European Union.
If Scotland does become independent, visitors will find many things unchanged. The SNP says that Scotland will remain a part of the EU, its currency will remain the pound, the border between Scotland and England will stay open, and Queen Elizabeth will still be the head of state. It should be noted, however, that Scotland could in the future vote to adopt the euro if it becomes in their interest to do so. Major changes could also include the formation of a national military, control over 90% of the North Sea’s oil and gas fields (although this is hotly contested by Great Britain) and a different tuition policy for non-Scottish Europeans attending school in Scotland. Currently, all Europeans outside of the UK enjoy free tuition in Scotland, but the SNP would want to change that.
It’s unclear whether transportation would be affected by independence, according to CPT Scotland, the trade association that represents bus, coach and light rail industries. Since the transportation policy largely comes under the Scottish Parliament’s responsibilities, there may be few changes, said CPT Scotland communications manager Paul White. “It would also be interesting to see what independence would do to fuel duty [tax] – something which is currently set by the UK government,” White said.
Overall, those in favour of independence believe that Scotland will become a stronger country on its own two feet, while those opposed believe that the country will lose the security granted by being a part of the United Kingdom. If the former group is right, independence will help the country grow its economy, attracting more business and more travellers. If the latter group is right, the result could be the opposite.