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If Scotland Ever Leaves U.K., What Stays Behind?


Divorce can be difficult and complicated, especially if you've been married for 307 years. That's the situation of Scotland. Should it dissolve the union with England that created Great Britain in 1707? Well, there is one poll that came out yesterday showing a neck-and-neck race in the independence referendum that's set for Thursday, September 18. And that poll shows the pro-independent side holding a small lead.

Well, if indeed the Scots do vote to separate, who gets what? What changes? We're going to ask a supporter of Scottish Independence, Andrew Tickell who blogs in Glasgow as the Lallands Peat Worrier. You can explain that name to us (laughter) in a second, but I should say, you're also a lecturer in Law at Glasgow Caledonian University, correct?

ANDREW TICKELL: That's correct.

SIEGEL: Do you worry a lot?

TICKELL: (Laughter) I'm profoundly anxious. I have echoes of Woody Allen in my best moments.

SIEGEL: Well, let's address an issue that's very controversial in Scotland which is the Trident submarine. It's Britain's nuclear system. It's based in Scotland. If independent, the Trident and all would go back south of the border?

TICKELL: Absolutely. That's definitely the position. In Scotland, nuclear weapons are not popular. But there's also an economic argument that as job creation schemes go, Trident is profoundly ineffective. The Scottish government's position is that Trident would be departing from the Clyde, where it's currently based, by 2020. So that is likely to be, I think, an important card on the table when it comes to the renegotiations if Scotland does vote yes.

SIEGEL: Well, if you've been part of Great Britain, which then became the United Kingdom for three centuries, is Scotland entitled to a piece of The Royal Navy? Do you get some surface ships out of the deal?

TICKELL: That's certainly an argument that the Scottish government would make - that we'd be entitled to our fair share of assets. I think we have around 8.7 percent or something like that of the UK population. So we'd be wanting to realize 8.7 percent of the UK assets, which would include some of the military hardware which we have built up together as part of the union since, as you say, 1707.

SIEGEL: The leading Scottish independence advocate, First Minister Alex Salmond, says Scotland would continue to use the pound as its currency - he says as part of a currency union with the United Kingdom. But at the start wouldn't Scotland depend for all of its monetary policy on what would be a foreign government, the bank of England down in London?

TICKELL: Well, our proposition is that we would share these institutions. It wouldn't be a foreign institution, but it would be a shared institution. So that's the proposal of the Scottish government - that we'd use the pound because it would be best not just for Scotland but best for England, best for our businesses, best for trade.

That would mean that the Bank of England would set certain policy areas in terms of interest rates. But we think that's a reasonable compromise to make in terms of the benefits which we'd derive for the Scottish and the UK economy from continuing to share this pound which works perfectly well for us.

SIEGEL: But this currency union that you're talking about - assuming that Scotland were to vote for independence, you would have to assume that Scotland could then negotiate this arrangement with the UK.

TICKELL: Yes they would, absolutely. That's true. And at the moment they're saying that they would not agree to that. We think that's a bluff. It's not a real-world argument, and it's not an argument which will meet the test of the economic challenges which will arise for England if Scotland does vote yes.

SIEGEL: The act of union involved monarchs - the Stuart kings becoming kings of both Scotland and England. Would their successors, the Windsors - would they remain royals in an independent Scotland?

TICKELL: Well, that's the proposal of the Scottish government. They want to keep the Queen. They want to keep the Queen as the head of state and their heirs and successors. So that's the position - that they would remain kings and queens of Scots in the future.

SIEGEL: Andrew Tickell, thank you very much for talking with us today.

TICKELL: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Andrew Tickell, who is a law lecturer in Glasgow, blogs as the Lallands Peat Worrier and obviously supports Scottish independence. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.