What does the Scottish referendum mean in the South East?

Image caption Scotland goes to the polls in less than three weeks' time

The South East of England is geographically closer to France than to Scotland but since the Act of Union in 1707 England and Scotland have been inextricably linked - sharing taxes, borders and crucially currency.

But that could all change on 18 September. Scots who no longer live there can't take part in the referendum but Stuart Harvey who has lived in Margate for the past 15 years has no doubt how he'd like to vote.

He tells me: "I would vote Yes if I was up in Scotland - my concern is if it's not taken now then that's the chance gone for generations."

He admits the decision for many is based on emotional rather than practical concerns and says funding for the NHS and the nuclear weapons based on the Clyde are real concerns for Scots.

North of the border the issue of whether Scotland should be independent has been debated for months now - with heated exchanges in TV debates between Alex Salmond and the former chancellor Alistair Darling.

Whitstable and East Renfrewshire

But has the referendum question caught the imagination here in the South East?

I went to Whitstable to gauge the mood there.

It's a traditional seaside town - much more famous for its annual oyster festival than for its Scottish connections - although it does have twin-town links with East Renfrewshire, near Glasgow. It's not a scientific poll but I asked people whether they thought Scotland should be independent from the rest of the UK and most of those I asked thought it should remain part of the UK.

Others simply hadn't considered it - believing it doesn't affect them. But Professor Tim Luckhurst - from the University of Kent - who in a former life was the editor of The Scotsman newspaper, says it affects the whole of the UK.

Mr Luckhurst says: "One of the things which upsets me the most is that people in England pay no attention to the affairs of Scotland.

"They seem to imagine that Scotland leaving the UK would make no difference but this isn't just a referendum on the future of Scotland; it's a referendum on the survival of the United Kingdom because without Scotland the UK doesn't exist."

He believes "the death of the United Kingdom would make a huge difference to people's lives here in the South East".

More Scottish powers

Whatever the outcome, things are going to change. If it's a Yes vote it will lead to the break of up of the United Kingdom as we know it.

If Scotland votes No and decides to remain part of the Union, the three main parties at Westminster have already said the Scottish parliament will be given more powers.

That won't please everyone south of the border either. A recent poll, the Future of England Survey, suggested English voters want the UK government to take a much tougher stance on Scotland if it decides to remain part of the Union.

More than half, 56%, felt public spending in Scotland should be reduced. Nearly two thirds (66%) think Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on English laws.

So, whatever happens on 18 September - it looks as if the current relationship between Scotland and England will be re-defined - changing a relationship that has lasted for hundreds of years.

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