Hamish Macdonell: How would the division work? It's complicated...

Examining the practicalities of an independent Scotland

Related Topics

One SNP figure was sure yesterday what Scottish independence would look like. "Palm trees," he said with a grin. "And sunshine, lots of sunshine. And milk and honey, of course, and manna from heaven."

But what will it really be like if Alex Salmond gets his way?


There will have to be checkpoints on the roads in and out of Scotland. Visitors may not need to present passports as they cross over but there would have to be stop-and-search posts on crossings along the border, because the two countries would have different immigration policies. As for passports, Scots would get a new version, probably with the slightly different Scottish coat of arms.


Scottish residents of England and English residents of Scotland at the time of independence would become citizens of the country in which they were living. Those moving after that would have to apply for citizenship.


The Trident nuclear submarine base at Faslane will disappear. But the Nationalists are also very aware that thousands of jobs are at risk, which is why they have been careful to insist that Faslane will continue to exist as a naval base – for the Scottish navy – even after the submarines have gone.


A line drawn across the North Sea from the border would hand most of the UK's oil fields to Scotland and most of the gas fields to England. The Nationalists seem to think there is up to £1 trn of oil left. Others are not so sure...


Mr Salmond insists that Scotland would slot seamlessly into the EU as a new member state. Others believe Scotland might have to apply, and there have been suggestions that Europe might demand that Scotland enter the euro.


The SNP put Scotland's share of the national debt at around £40bn. Some on the English side put it at more than £100bn. There is also disagreement about how much of RBS's debt Scotland should shoulder – some say all, some say 8-9 per cent, in line with Scotland's share of the UK population.


Mr Salmond used to be keen on the euro – when he also wanted Scotland to join the so-called Arc of Prosperity from Ireland to Iceland. But with that group now more of an "Arc of Insolvency", he now backs sterling until a possible referendum on the euro. Other nationalists argue for the dollar, or a new currency – maybe the groat?


If the two countries do end up with different tax regimes, Edinburgh could conceivably decide to lure business to Scotland by lowering corporation taxes. We might also see large numbers of people living on one side of the border and working on the other.

The Queen

Scots are generally more republican than their English counterparts, but most, including Mr Salmond, seem to want to keep the Queen as the head of state.

Armed Forces

Scotland would have its own defence forces taken from its 10 per cent share of the UK armed forces. The SNP believes the existing Scottish regiments would simply transfer allegiance. The air force would be based at Lossiemouth, Moray.


Many Scotland-based BBC staff would likely transfer to a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation. Any licence fee levied in Scotland would go to support the new body. But BBC output would still be available.

Culture, sport and language

English would share space on road signs with Gaelic and possibly even Scots, both of which would be promoted. Scotland would be able to compete in its own right at the Olympics. Finally, there would be a competition to find a national anthem to replace the current (unofficial) song: "Flower of Scotland".

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

Read Next

I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts

Björt Ólafsdóttir

Daily catch-up: opening round in the election contest of the YouTube videos

John Rentoul
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor