Updated: Friday, 17th May 2019 @ 1:55pm

My Big Mouth: Scotland should follow Falkland Islands’ lead and stay part of Britain – for everyone’s benefit

My Big Mouth: Scotland should follow Falkland Islands’ lead and stay part of Britain – for everyone’s benefit

Comment by Reece Lawrence

Earlier this month, just three out of 1,518 voters on a tiny set of islands floating some 8,000 miles away selected that they didn’t wish to remain part of Britain.

On Thursday, the First Minister of a country a wee trip up the M6 set the date for its own vote on whether it will leave the historic union with the UK – and there will certainly be more than three who wish to.

While the Falkland Islands and Scotland are a world apart – both in geographical and other senses – the impacts of a referendum on independence could be very similar.

Alex Salmond hopes September 18 2014 is the day Scotland will become an independent nation, with its own political determination and economy (and the possibility of Sean Connery’s return).

Obviously Connery’s potential repatriation is of little significance, but the most Scots stand to gain is a stronger sense of national identity – that is if they wanted that in the first place.

Current opinion polls place support for independence at 34%, with 55% against illustrating that quite a few people feel their nationality is intact even with a union.

Then there is the union itself which, for cultural and historical reasons, is not something that can be thrown away so easily – as pro-independence campaigners would like to believe.

As the Falkland Islanders proved, the historical nature of these ties is arguably more important than any other factor – if they are proud of their links with Britain that go back to at least 1833, then surely Scotland cannot expect to break free of a union going back even further to 1707.

The practical questions of independence boil down to whether Scotland will be better off outside the UK, and whether the UK would be better off with one fewer member states.

Devolution has come a long way in recent decades, but the prospect of Scotland as a separate political entity could be a step too far for many.

A series of knock-on effects – not least the Welsh reaction – may follow and further undermine the UK as a political entity.

The benefits of a union for social, economic and defence stability are extremely complex but would be shaken to the core should Scotland become its own boss.

The idea of Scottish people in England or Wales being known officially as ‘foreigners’ would be the strangest phenomenon since Gérard Depardieu’s Russian excursion.

Also, what would become of the Union Flag? It is perhaps the most recognised flag in the world, and were Scotland to become independent the cross of St Andrews would technically no longer have a place on the famous banner.

A Union Flag without the blue background would look more than a little strange, and would arguably change the dynamics of how the UK is viewed in the wider world.

The UK will forever be linked with ambitious imperialism, but losing Scotland less than a century after Irish independence would symbolically be a hammer blow.

As things stand independence looks unlikely, but the fact the question is even being asked next year makes it an important issue nonetheless.

Picture courtesy of Saül Gordillo via Flickr, with thanks

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