In an historic referendum vote, the people of Scotland have chosen to continue to be part of the United Kingdom, an alliance which has existed since the year 1707. The vote occurred on Thursday, September 18, 2014, resulted in 55 percent against independence to 45 percent in favor in an unprecedented turnout of just under 85 percent. For the first time, 16- and 17-year-olds were eligible to vote. The question on the ballot paper was simply: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" Scotland’s chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly declared the result of the referendum at the Royal Highland Centre outside Edinburgh.
Result - 55% to 45%
The capital city of Edinburgh answered No as well as the country’s oil center, Aberdeen. Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city voted Yes. Ballots were cast at polling stations across each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas. The first region to report was Clackmannanshire, with 54 percent of voters rejecting an independent Scotland.
Many Scots stayed up overnight in homes and bars, waiting for the result that could possibly change their lives, shake up the world’s financial markets, and encourage independence movements in other small disgruntled countries. Scotland’s population is just over 5 million, a relatively small portion of the 64 million citizens in the United Kingdom as a whole.
Map of the United Kingdom
The Queen released a written statement after the result has been confirmed. If Scotland had broken away, Prime Minister David Cameron would have faced calls for his resignation. A much-relieved Cameron promised outside his Downing Street office to live up to earlier promises to give Scotland new powers on taxes, spending and welfare. He stated that this action requires that people in other parts of the U. K. should also get more rights to govern their own affairs as well, particularly in England. The new plans will be agreed upon by November, with draft legislation by January. Scotland is currently allotted 59 seats out of 650 in British Parliament.
The decision means that Britain will avoid a prolonged period of financial insecurity that had been predicted if Scotland had answered Yes. A vote for independence would have involved 18 months of negotiations on how the two countries would separate their institutions before Scotland's planned Independence Day on March 24, 2016.
Many questions would have required an immediate answer, such as the currency that an independent Scotland would use. Also, Britain’s nuclear arsenal, now housed in Scotland, would need a new home. Scotland’s status in the European Union and in NATO would have to be decided. Instead, the Scots chose the security offered by remaining in the United Kingdom with England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond had argued that Scots could go it alone because of its extensive oil reserves and high levels of ingenuity and education. He said Scotland could flourish on its own, free of interference from any London-based government. On the other hand, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown had implored Scots not to break their links with the rest of the United Kingdom, stressing the economic uncertainties that independence would bring.
The process has undoubtedly assured that Scotland will receive future benefits that would never have occurred without this call for reform from its populace.
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