Will Scotland Leave the United Kingdom?
Scotland will shortly hold a referendum on whether or not to stay within the United Kingdom. Why has Britain lost the power it formerly had in the world?
UPDATE: On Sept. 18, 2014, Scots went to the polls and voted decisively to stay within the United Kingdom. The final vote was: 55 percent supporting Union and 45 percent for independence. Prime Minister David Cameron is now promising that the government will move forward with promises made during the campaign to give the Scottish Parliament more powers.
On Sept. 18, 2014, Scotland will hold a historic referendum. The Scottish people will go to the polls and vote “yes” or “no” to the following question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
A majority “yes” vote would result in Scotland leaving the United Kingdom and becoming an independent nation. A majority “No” vote would keep Scotland as part of the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Throughout most of the year, polls have indicated a majority would likely vote no; but in the past few weeks leading up to the actual election, polls have tightened considerably. According to the BBC, the most recent poll (Sept. 6) showed 47 percent saying they will vote yes and 45 percent saying they will vote no (with 8 percent undecided). Reporting on the same poll results, The Guardian reported: “A poll by YouGov for the Sunday Times sent shockwaves through the political establishment north and south of the border as it showed the yes camp had 51% to 49% for no, excluding the don’t knows. Better Together leader Alistair Darling said: ‘These polls can and must now serve as a wake-up call to anyone who thought the referendum was a foregone conclusion.’”
What exactly is the United Kingdom?
Since many of our readers are not British, it is important that we understand exactly what the United Kingdom (U.K.) is. The U.K. is a union consisting of:
- Great Britain, which is made up of the three countries sharing the island of Britain—England, Wales and Scotland.
- Northern Ireland.
The four member countries that make up the U.K. are under the government of Queen Elizabeth II, who serves as the head of state of the United Kingdom. Each of the four countries has representation in the U.K. Parliament. Technically, only the United Kingdom is a sovereign state—having membership in the United Nations, European Union, International Organization for Standardization, and NATO.
A union that has existed for over 300 years is now in danger of being broken by a vote of those eligible—anyone currently living in Scotland who is registered to vote.Scotland has been united with England since 1707 (as a result of the Union with Scotland Act passed by the English Parliament and the Union with England Act passed by the Scottish parliament). The two countries have shared the same monarch since 1603, when King James VI of Scotland inherited the English crown upon the death of Queen Elizabeth I.
A union that has existed for over 300 years is now in danger of being broken by a vote of those eligible—anyone currently living in Scotland who is registered to vote. Those living in the rest of the U.K., even if born in Scotland, cannot participate in the referendum.
The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth), which is composed of 53 member countries with a common history and culture as a result of being a part of the former British Empire. Most of these nations recognize the British crown as their sovereign.
It is possible that Scotland could leave the United Kingdom, but seek membership within the Commonwealth. In fact, many of those who are promoting a yes vote want Scotland to maintain allegiance to the British crown, continue using the British pound sterling as its money and seek membership in the European Union—just not as a part of the U.K.
A common heritage
It’s important to note that the Scottish argument for independence is not just based on Scottish nationalism. The United Kingdom is currently governed by a coalition led by the Conservative Party, while Scotland is overwhelmingly supportive of the Labour Party. Many Scots feel that it is undemocratic to be governed by a party that has virtually no support within Scotland.
Nevertheless, the English and Scottish share a common historical heritage. The two countries not only share the same island, but also similar cultures and language. Alistair Darling wrote this in its commentary on why Scotland should stay a partner in the U.K.:
“We have achieved so much as a partner in the UK. We created and then dismantled an empire together, fought fascism together, built the welfare state together. The BBC and the Bank of England were founded by Scots. The NHS was founded by a Welshman. The welfare state was founded by an Englishman. We would not have achieved half as much if we had not been a United Kingdom.”
But the blessings the United Kingdom has experienced didn’t just happen. They were prophesied in your Bible!
Scotland and England were both a part of the “multitude of nations” that were promised to the patriarch Joseph’s son Ephraim as a result of Abraham’s faithfulness to God (Genesis 48:19; see also 12:1-3). This “multitude of nations” ascended to world hegemony as the British Empire in the 19th century. It truly was “the largest empire the world had ever seen” (Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, 1987, p. 224).
The British Empire not only maintained order as the most powerful empire on earth, but it also protected and maintained the world’s most vital trade networks through its powerful navy and strategic bases and possessions. It achieved all this while maintaining a system based on “limited government and the rule of law,” mainly relying “on trade rather than dominion” (Arthur Herman, To Rule the Waves, 2004, p. xviii).
This was all accomplished when the nations of Britain were united as the United Kingdom.
Britain on the wane
Britain emerged from the two world wars a shadow of its former self. Not only had its empire begun to be dismantled into a commonwealth with little global clout, but even the countries that formerly made up its core—a United Kingdom that included Ireland—began breaking apart in the early 20th century. Only Northern Ireland (representing roughly 30 percent of the population and 15 percent of the area of the island of Ireland) remains within the United Kingdom.
The future of Scotland’s relationship with the United Kingdom will soon be determined. But Scotland’s national status is not the greatest problem facing Great Britain. The greatest problem is the moral decline of the British peoples. Britain, along with its brother nation, the United States, has continued to move away from the Judeo-Christian principles that made these nations strong in the past. National and personal repentance is needed if Britain is to ever regain its strength and its role.
Read our article “The Island That Forgot God” in the September/October issue of Discern magazine for further insight into the moral decline of Great Britain. For more information on the biblical identity of these modern nations, read “Who Are the United States and Britain in Prophecy?”