THE BLOG

Scottish Independence Will Mean Less Freedom, Not More

17/09/2014 16:52 BST | Updated 17/11/2014 10:59 GMT

This week will see one of the most important referendums in recent British history. Scotland will go to the polls on 18 September to vote on whether to stay part of the Union or become independent.

In a vote all leaders agree there will be no turning back from, it is all the more crucial that objectivity is not trumped by emotion.

After all, independence would place Scotland in a terrible bind, primarily for one reason; in the most important areas of governance, trade and business activity, independence would mean Scotland has less freedom, not more.

In a best-case scenario Scotland would continue using the sterling. But this of course would mean Scotland losing control of its own currency. Moreover, given the economic uncertainty that will likely follow independence and the fact that Scotland runs a fiscal deficit, there is no guarantee any need for liquidity will be met as an independent Scotland would lose control over its own money supply, interest rates and monetary regulation. And worse still, without a currency union, Scotland will be without a lender of last resort.

On the other hand, it could join the euro. But leaving the relative security of the pound for the euro would be a huge own goal. The UK has been able to fare comparatively well during the euro crisis precisely because it did not have the euro.

Nor is European Union membership guaranteed for Scotland despite it enjoying strong domestic support for EU membership. Joining the EU any time soon after independence is unlikely, as the Eurozone crisis made it patently clear that EU membership should only be open to those nations with a sufficiently strong economy, something the economic uncertainty of independence would mean taking some time at best. Scotland's best bet for continuing to enjoy the EU's trade benefits and freedom of movement for people and goods would be to lend their support to the pro-EU voice within the Union.

An independent Scotland would also be a less influential place on the international stage, as it can leverage Westminster's political and economic reach far more effectively now then it would ever be able to as an independent nation.

All of these points help create a vision of the kind of country Scotland might become upon independence. Operating outside of the EU, with downgraded access to the EU markets, quite possibly with its own (much weaker) currency and without any meaningful status on the world stage, Scotland will almost inevitably become a far more isolated nation.

And in an increasingly integrated, globalised world, such isolationism curtails the freedom a nation needs to exercise the economic and trade decisions and activities needed for long-term economic prosperity and political success.

Finally, there is also a more human argument for the continuation of the union; the union between Scotland and England does not just stretch back across three centuries, it stretches across family ties, shared culture and values.

In my constituency of England North West, many families have blood ties across the border in Scotland. To some England and Scotland may appear as separate nations, but to many they are part of one nation bonded by something far deeper then just politics and economic policy.

For the sake of Scotland, England and the rest of the Union, let's hope it stays that way after September 18.