The UK and Scottish governments agreed to work together to give people in Scotland a referendum on Scottish independence by the end of 2014. This took place on Thursday September 18 and the result was in favour of Scotland remaining in the UK.
In the run up to the referendum, the UK government made the positive case for why Scotland is stronger in the UK, and the UK is stronger with Scotland in it. We outlined how people in Scotland could have the best of both worlds: decisions on important issues taken in Scotland, within a strong and secure UK.
To inform the debate about Scotland’s constitutional future, we undertook a programme of analysis on Scotland’s place in the UK and how it contributes to and benefits from being part of the UK.
The work was informed by expert opinion, including a forum of independent legal experts and provided people in Scotland with the facts and figures that were currently unknown or taken for granted, and explained how the UK in its current form works.
The work covered a number of important themes, including:
- the UK’s position in the world
- the protection of our citizens
- the economic benefits of the UK
A number of government departments were involved in this analysis. We also worked with independent experts including think tanks, academics, economists, lawyers and specialists from different sectors and areas of expertise.
Our first paper, Scotland analysis: devolution and the implications of independence, examined the UK’s constitutional framework and the legal implications of independence, how it benefits Scotland and the implications if people voted to leave. It concluded that, should Scotland become an independent state, the UK would be the continuing state, and an independent Scotland would be a new state. The legal position is clear that bodies that support the UK now, for example the Bank of England, would continue to operate on behalf of the continuing UK on the same basis as before should Scotland vote to become a separate state.
Our second paper, Scotland analysis: currency and monetary policy, explored these issues in more detail and concluded that all of the alternative currency arrangements would be likely to be less economically suitable for both Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Our 3rd paper, Scotland analysis: financial services and banking, analysed how the financial services sector currently operates across the UK, and considered the implications of Scottish independence on the financial system, the industry, and its customers across the UK.
Our 4th paper, Scotland analysis: business and microeconomic framework, considered the benefits of the UK’s integrated domestic market for goods and services, and the implications of Scottish independence on the UK’s shared regulatory and institutional framework; unified labour market, integrated knowledge base; and communications and transport infrastructure.
Our 5th paper, Scotland analysis: macroeconomic and fiscal performance, showed that Scotland’s economy has performed well as part of the UK. The paper analysed how the UK’s broader and more diverse tax base helps maintain stability of public spending in Scotland and smooth the impact of volatile sources of revenue, such as North Sea oil and gas. Looking at international comparators, the paper also considered the economic implications of putting a border between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Our 6th paper, Scotland analysis: defence, considered the consequences which Scotland leaving the UK would have for the national security of both Scotland and the rest of the UK. The paper analysed the UK’s approach to defence and the potential consequences of Scottish independence. It also looked at the challenges which would face an independent Scottish state to establish, man and equip its armed forces and wider defence structures.
Our 7th paper, Scotland analysis: security, considered the impact of independence on security issues such as counter-terrorism, fighting serious and organised crime and protecting against cyber threats. The paper analysed the UK’s approach to identifying and managing threats to the national security of the UK and the implications for these arrangements of a vote for independence.
Our 8th paper, Scotland analysis: Science and research, discussed the closely integrated and thriving research base between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Our research base is important to the UK’s, including Scotland’s, innovation and economic success. The paper investigated the consequences of Scottish independence for the UK research environment, including publicly funded institutions.
Our 9th paper, Scotland analysis: EU and international issues, considered the impact of independence on Scotland’s place in the world and the continuing benefits and advantages they would enjoy through Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom. The paper addressed Scottish Government claims on membership of the EU and the likely implications for Scottish taxpayers of losing the EU rebate.
Our 10th paper, Scotland analysis: borders and citizenship, looked at the implications for borders and citizenship if people in Scotland were to vote for independence. It set out how the current UK framework benefits the whole of the UK, including Scotland, explored the challenges which an independent Scottish state could face in assuming control of its borders, and considered the difficult choices that the people in Scotland would have to face on issues such as citizenship and nationality. It would be a choice between the continuity and security of being part of the UK, or the uncertainty and risk of leaving it.
Our 11th paper, Scotland analysis: assessment of a sterling currency union, examined what independence would mean for Scotland’s economy and how this would impact on Scotland’s macroeconomic framework choices, including its choice of currency.
Our 12th paper, Scotland analysis: energy, presented the UK Government’s analysis of the energy markets and the policy implications of the debate on Scottish independence. It reviewed the benefits of the current GB and UK frameworks for managing energy policy which has been integral in ensuring secure, clean and affordable energy supply and that energy liabilities are dealt with safely. It also explored some of the potential implications, costs and risks to which an independent Scottish state may be exposed to ensure Scotland’s energy needs are met.
Our 13th paper, Scotland analysis: work and pensions, examined what Scottish independence would mean for social security – including state, private and public sector pensions – and supporting people into work. It set out the current UK-wide arrangements and how they provide targeted and effective support to pensioners, jobseekers, employers and those needing support from the social security system.
Our 14th paper, Scotland analysis: Fiscal policy and sustainability, examined the outlook for Scotland’s public finances and the financial implications of independence for Scottish households and businesses. It found that Scotland’s future public finances would be substantially stronger were Scotland to remain part of the UK.
Our final paper, United Kingdom, united future: conclusions of the Scotland analysis programme, set out the programme’s key findings on currency, businesses and jobs, the affordability of public services, personal finances, and Scotland’s place in the world.
In October 2012, the UK and Scottish governments signed an agreement about how they would work to provide a legal basis for the referendum and make sure it provides a fair and decisive reflection of Scottish people’s views.
More information about how have done this can be found in our policy on facilitating a legal, fair, and decisive referendum. Information about our work to strengthen and deepen the Scottish devolution settlement can be found in our policy on Scottish devolution.
Bills and legislation
The Scotland Act 1998 established the Scottish Parliament.
The Scotland Act 2012 devolved more tax-raising and other powers from the UK Parliament to the Scottish Parliament.