In part two of a two-part series about the future of the Union, Tom Hewitt argues a second vote for Scottish independence would lead to a very acrimonious divorce.

Nothing highlights better the self-obsessed nature of nationalism than listening to a Nicola Sturgeon speech: Scotland, Scotland, Scotland is all you hear. With Scottish independence now more likely than ever, according to recent opinion polls, unfortunately this type of rhetoric is going to become a lot more common. However, Nicola Sturgeon's singular focus blinds her to one important reality – England can do nationalism too.

In many regards, it is unsurprising that Scottish nationalists don't tend to spend much time thinking about the attitudes of their southern neighbour. After all, not having to worry about the views of people in England is core to the very appeal of independence – rightly or wrongly, it was people in England that gave Scotland phenomena such as Boris Johnson and Brexit, for example.

Unfortunately, for the SNP, a dislike of nasty things like Johnson and Brexit cannot change basic geography or geo-political realities. As Ireland has found, whether independent or not, Scotland will always be affected by the decisions of its far more powerful and hegemonic neighbour. What being in the Union does is give Scotland at least some say.

By turning itself into a foreign country, a vote for Scottish independence would mean English interests would come to the fore in an undiluted way for the first time in centuries. So, what would this mean for the divorce?

For starters, it is likely the people of England would take such a decision personally. Most people in England are fond of the Scots and consider them fellow countrymen, so would not understand why they had chosen to walk away. With so much common endeavour perceived as essentially spurned, there would be a sense of betrayal.

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As the dawning realisation sunk in that the Scottish people had unilaterally voted to end Britain, a country many people in England also consider their own, the anger would grow. The sense of humiliation as journalists from the rest of the world jetted in, to cover questions such as the future flag or name of the country, would be great. Adversaries such as China and Russia would gloat.

The nitty gritty of the negotiations would be the worst element. Knowing what some newspapers are like, it is easy to see how the English tabloids would whip up a frenzy against the Scots. With a need for support in Scotland no longer a political consideration, English politicians would inevitably end up competing on who would take the toughest line against Scotland in the negotiations.

As Brexit has taught us, the more powerful side in a negotiation tends to have the upper hand. And with an economy and population ten times the size of Scotland, England clearly would be the more powerful side.

Consequently, there would be no cushy deal for Scotland. Whilst being shared assets in the Union, under international law, the surviving UK would be the legal successor state. Following independence, there would therefore be no obligation for the rest of the UK to allow an independent Scotland to share control of Sterling, to continue paying pensions, or to handover a portion of the gold reserves; likewise, with the military and BBC. The rest of the UK could theoretically cut a deal over these issues, but it is hard to see how the resentment in England would make that easy.

The most delusional claim from Scottish nationalists is that Royal Navy ships would continue to be built in an independent Scotland. This would not only break the tradition of building all naval ships domestically, but most of all would be politically nonviable – with several alternative shipyards in England and Northern Ireland that could be used.

At first glance, Scotland's strongest point of leverage in the negotiations would be the future of the Faslane naval base, containing Trident. Yet even this leverage wouldn't amount to what it seems. Assuming an independent Scotland would definitely get rid of Trident, which Scottish nationalists are adamant about, then how is that leverage? It would take at least ten years to build safe alternative facilities, assuming they could be found, so the surviving UK could just refuse to move Trident until it was ready – indeed, with nuclear weapons so dangerous, it would be immoral to do otherwise.

So, whilst Scottish independence would be a grave loss to both sides, in the divorce negotiations at least, Scotland would clearly be the biggest loser. The best way to avoid such an acrimonious split would be for both sides to remember how much more we have in common and can achieve together. It would be a tragedy to see our two nations poisoned against each other. But if not, Scottish nationalists should realise – England can also do nationalism.

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