Today has seen the formal announcement of a 2014 referendum that could see Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and becoming an independent nation.The plan was widely reported last week, and has been the centre of a legal battle for years. But do the British care? Not so much, according to one brilliant quote featured in Reuters:
“Couldn’t give a Scooby dooby doo,” said a builder outside London’s wool exchange.
Another quote may be more illuminating:
Jamie Smith, a young professional, said: “Scotland would be foolish to go it alone. They get more out of it than they put in.”
What this shows you is the widely held viewpoint that Scotland would be an economic disaster if it was allowed to become independent (the country has generally lagged behind the rest of the UK in terms of economic growth, and parts of its major cities are notorious for their poverty). The Economist has gotten in on the argument with an especially cruel cover story earlier this year.
However, there is a catch.
Scottish nationalists argue that an independent country would gain the rights to the valuable North Sea oil and gas fields, 90 per cent of which lie within its geographical limits. Natural resources like these could net the country £13 billion ($20.2 billion) in tax revenues a year.
Of course, the UK wouldn’t be too happy about that loss, and is arguing instead that the ownership of the natural resources should be based on investment rather than geography. There’s also the depressing possibility that even that money wouldn’t go far enough to cover Scottish expenses — one senior UK government minister has criticised the plan, saying that Scotland’s welfare packages are so expensive they would cost twice as much as the revenue from North Sea oil.
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