On 18 September, 4 million people will be voting in Scotland on whether that country should become independent or remain within the United Kingdom. There will be a simple question – Yes or No.
What impact do I, as an English MP, think that the Scottish referendum vote will have on people living in the Beaconsfield constituency? Well, although we will not be voting ourselves, the outcome of the decision made by the people of Scotland will affect 63 million Britons.
As the prime minister wrote recently: “We could wake up on September 19 in a different country, with a different future ahead of it.”
By instinct and reason I am a Unionist, proud of the United Kingdom and I would like to see us staying together, within the historic union, through which we have achieved so much and within which so much more could be achieved.
As a lawyer, I would point out that Scotland has always maintained its separate identity with its own legal system. Political devolution brought about changes in which Scotland and Wales can determine their own national needs, such as in the organisation of health service provision or of higher education.
I have concerns about the potential disruption which could come about by imposing a border between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The ‘Better Together’ campaign points out that in trade terms a similar barrier was erected when the Czech Republic and Slovakia separated. There, trade between the two countries fell by 75 per cent.
We do not have to carry a passport if we travel by road or rail between Beaconsfield and Blairgowrie, for example. (Even by air the passport is to help with the security of air travel.) Goods do not need to go through customs. Orders are quoted for and paid for in the same currency, the British pound.
I hope that voters in Scotland will be able to acknowledge by their vote that the United Kingdom derives a great many benefits from maintaining the historic union, both for all the individual countries and as a stronger entity globally. — Dominic Grieve, MP for Beaconsfield